7 Stretches to Make Holiday Travel Less Painful

We can all agree that we have had our fair share of aches and pains while traveling. With the holiday season right around the corner, there is a good chance that you will be on the road or in the air visiting loved ones or going on a trip.

Here are seven of my favorite stretches that are easy to do while on the road:

1. Chest Stretch

doorway pec stretch

How: Place your forearm with your elbow bent on surface such as a doorway or edge of a wall. Having trouble? Be creative. I used an electric pole. Adjust your shoulder so it is at an angle ranging from 90 to 120 degrees. If you place your shoulder any higher or lower, you will not stretch the pectoralis major muscle. Stagger your legs into a lunge and turn your body away from where your arm is placed. You will feel a pull in your chest. Hold stretch for 30 seconds and switch to your other arm.

Benefits: Improves the flexibility of your pectoralis major muscle and prevents you from having your shoulders round forward causing neck and back strain.

2. Upper Trapezius Stretch

upper stretch

How: To stretch your left upper trapezius muscle, side bend your head to the right. Place your left hand behind your back and your right hand over your head. Carefully and gently pull your neck to the right until you feel a stretch on your left upper trapezius. It should not be painful! Hold the stretch and do the opposite to stretch your right upper trapezius muscle. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

Benefits: Decreases muscle tension in your neck. Also reduces the chance of getting a tension headache.

3. Levator Scapula Stretch

levatator cap stretch

How: To stretch your left levator scapula muscle, side bend your head to the right. Then rotate your head to the right. You are basically looking at your right arm pit. Place your left hand behind your back and your right hand over your head. Carefully and gently pull your neck to the right until you feel a stretch on your left levator scapula muscle. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. It should not be painful! Make sure to stretch your left levator scapula muscle by doing the opposite as described above.

Benefits: Decreases muscle tension in your neck. Also reduces the chance of getting a tension headache.

4. Modified Prayer Stretch

modified prayer pose

How: Grab a surface which is the height of your hips. Lean back until you feel a stretch in your low back. The lower you lean the more you will feel the stretch. Hold stretch for 30 seconds.

Benefit: Improves the flexibility of your low back and decrease low back muscle tension.

5. Hamstring Stretch

hamstring stretch

How: While standing, bend down from your hips and reach towards your toes. Try to keep your legs straight, leaving a slight bend in your knees. You should feel stretch at the back of your thighs. Hold stretch for 30 seconds.

Benefit: Improves the flexibility of your hamstrings and decreases the tension on your low back.

6. Hip Flexor Stretch

hip flexor

How: Step forward with one leg into a lunge position. Keep the front leg bent and the back leg straight. You should feel a stretch at the front of the hip of the leg that is back. You may also feel a stretch in your calf. Hold stretch for 30 seconds.

Benefit: To reduce the tightness at the front of your hips and in your low back pain. When you sit for long periods of time, your hip flexor muscles get tight. The iliopsoas muscles attaches to the spine. When this muscle is tight, it will pull on your low back causing tension and pain.

7. Standing Mermaid Stretch

standing mermaid

How: Place one hand on your hip and the other arm over your head. With the arm over your head, reach towards the opposite side until you feel a stretch at your side. Hold stretch for 30 seconds.

Benefit: Improves the flexibility of your obliques, latissimus dorsi, quadratus lumborum. Overall, improving your spinal flexibility and decreasing back muscle tone.

Tip: Bring along a tennis ball or lacrosse ball which you can use for soft tissue trigger point release. Just place the ball in-between where you have a muscle trigger point and a wall or flat surface and sustain pressure until you feel the trigger point release.

trigger point release

With these stretches say goodbye to “bah humbugs” and hello to holiday cheer. Make sure to take these stretches with you as you hit the road. You are seven stretches away from a enjoying your holiday travels with less aches and pains.

Where are you headed this holiday season that these could come in handy?

Images via Juliann Cheryl

Cindy (Kimmi) Dao is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and founder/writer of Free2Live. She has a passion to empower women to embrace themselves for the way they are and to treasure their individuality. As a way of encouraging women to love themselves, she guides them in how to take care of their lives through health and fitness.

4 COMMENTS
  • Matt November 24, 2016

    thanks for the tips.

  • Emily D. November 20, 2016

    Oh this is so useful. I am always crazy tight–I’ve had a PT tell me I have the tightest hamstrings she’s ever seen–so I’m always looking for good stretches.This is perfect!

  • Charmaine Ng November 20, 2016

    Thank you for these tips! I’m not on holiday at the moment – I wish I was – but I’ll be trying out these stretches in my everyday routine.
    – Charmaine
    http://charmainenyw.com

    • Dr. Cindy kimmi dao November 20, 2016

      Yes Charmaine! You will be amazed how much better you feel after implementing daily stretching into your life. Peace and love.

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