Holiday Travel Stretches – Stretching 101

If you are traveling this holiday season, remember to be kind to your body. In a plane, train, or automobile your muscles are forced into a shortened position for a prolonged time. Here are some basic stretches that can be done to mitigate the effects.

Chest stretch- A muscle commonly associated with poor posture is the pectoralis, or chest, muscles. As shoulders droop forward and upper back becomes stretched out, the chest muscles become shortened. An easy way to stretch the chest is in a doorway or against a wall. Make sure your shoulder blade is back and down, shoulder joint is back, elbow level with the shoulder line, lean in and slightly angle away from the wall. Putting the forearm flat against the wall makes it easier to have the correct alignment.
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Lat stretch- In bad posture the shoulder blades move away from each other and you fall forward into a collapsed ribcage. This shortens the lattisimus dorsi of the upper back. It’s easiest to do this against a wall with the hands against a wall, hinging forward with straight limbs, shoulders down, which also effectively stretches the hamstrings.

Neck and upper trapezius stretch- The collapsed upper body slouch also causes shortness in the upper trapezius area. To stretch this muscle along with the side flexors of the neck take one arm bent behind your back, drop the opposite ear to shoulder and make sure to keep the shoulder back and down.

Spine stretch- To align your spine after being in a prolonged seated posture sit straight, twist to one side, focusing on an open chest and twisting the neck to look over the shoulder.
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Piriformis stretch- Inside of your hips the muscles and ligaments can become tight and pull your sacroiliac joint out of alignment. This can cause all kinds of discomfort along the back. An easy way to stretch the hips is sitting straight with feet flat then crossing one leg up and over the other with the ankle over top the upper thigh. This opens the hip to allow a deep stretch.

Hip flexor/ quadricep stretch- The front of the hips also becomes tight from sitting in a fixed posture for a long time. Sit on the edge of a chair and swing the outside leg back while pushing forward with the back of the hip to ensure that you’re not arching your lower back. You should feel the front of the hip and thigh being lengthened.

Another great way to create length in the spine after gravity has worn on you is to hang from a bar above you. This just allows space between the vertebrae and can release any vertebrae that are subluxed, or misaligned. If you do these basic stretches, you can help alleviate any accumulated discomfort in the body that sets in because of travel. For any specific stretch advice contact me, Amber Walz, at the club (206)443-1111 ext.242.

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