Workout Tips

How to Relieve Stiff Muscles and Body Aches While Traveling

Don't let long flights, cramped trains, and overcrowded buses be a royal pain. Use these stretches to boost mobility.

Man Stretching
Priscilla Gragg / Getty

Travel can be a real pain in the neck. Sleeping the wrong way on a flight can leave you tight and practically immobilized. And if you're exploring a walking city, then aching calves and shoulders are almost a guarantee.

Good news is you don't need a gym or PT session to set your body straight. 

You just need to focus on mobility, says Paul Christopher, founder and director of programming at Gravity + Oxygen Fitness in Boca Raton, FL.

 The three most crucial areas to mobilize, especially after long hours of sitting, are your ankles, hips, and thoracic spine (midback). These areas allow for front to back, lateral, and rotational movement. Mobilize all three regions and you’re guaranteed to feel better. In addition to foam rolling regularly, try these exercises for each area:

Ankles/Calves: Calf Stretch

How to do it: Place your hands on a wall and stagger your feet so your back leg's calf is in a stretched position. Keep your heels on the ground to feel the stretch in the back of your leg. Then, rock your back ankle side to side, keeping the heel bolted to the floor, for 20 seconds. Switch feet and repeat.

Hips: Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

How to do it: Come down into a half-kneeling position with a towel or pad underneath your planted knee. Rest your hands on the lunged knee and begin tilting your pelvis back and forth. Try squeezing the kneeling glute to increase the tension and stretch on your hip flexors. Perform for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Thoracic Spine: Thoracic Openers

In fetal position with knees tucked toward your chest, extend arms out long in front of your chest. Take your top hand and reach past your bottom one. Then graze your top hand on the floor, going over and around your head until you’re looking the other way. Repeat for 1 minute, then roll to the other side and perform again.

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