8 Helpful Stretches When Traveling

stretches when traveling

Clinically reviewed by Lee Ann Morse, PT, MBA, LDE

Whether you’ve been in a car, on a plane, or otherwise idle for an extended period, one of the best things you can do for your body and mind is enjoy a nice stretch.

Why do we stretch in general? Stretching lengthens muscles, which tend to shorten and stiffen when we’re inactive. It can also support proper posture, improve circulation, and encourage your body to release endorphins that reduce pain.  

At the end of a trip, stretching can also help you relax, unwind, and sleep better. And at any point in your travels, stretching enables you to rest more comfortably and enjoy the ride!    

Try These Refreshing Stretches

Perform these eight stretches frequently as you travel to take good care of your muscles and joints.

1. Head tilts

  1. Sit with your spine straight.
  2. Tilt your head to the right, moving your ear toward your shoulder. 
  3. Use your right hand to pull your head gently closer to your shoulder.
  4. Hold for a few seconds and then return to the starting position.
  5. Do the same on the left side.
  6. Complete 5 repetitions. 

2. Ankle rolls

  1. Start in a normal sitting position. 
  2. Lift your right foot off the ground slightly.
  3. Rotate your foot in various directions for 10 seconds.
  4. Return your right foot to the floor and do the same with the left.
  5. Do 3 to 5 repetitions.

3. Seated spinal stretch

  1. Sit with your spine straight and room between your back and the chair back.
  2. Exhale as you lean forward and lift your head upward.
  3. Hold for a few seconds.
  4. Inhale as you round your spine and look toward your belly button.
  5. Hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting position.
  6. Do 3 to 5 repetitions. 

4. Seated spinal twist

  1. Sit with your spine straight. 
  2. Inhale and lengthen your spine.
  3. Maintaining that elongated spine, rotate to the right, using your left hand on your right thigh to increase the stretch gently.
  4. Hold for a few seconds, then rotate to the left.
  5. Do 3 to 5 repetitions.

5. Quad stretch

  1. Stand near a wall, chair, or other support.
  2. Shift your weight to your left foot and bend your right knee to bring your right foot up behind you.
  3. Grasp your right foot with your right hand and gently raise it toward your backside. 
  4. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds, then gently lower your foot to the ground.
  5. Repeat on the left side. 
  6. Do 2 to 3 repetitions.

6. Shoulder rolls

  1. Sit with your spine straight and some room between your back and the chair back. 
  2. Rotate your shoulders in forward circles for 5 to 10 seconds, then reverse the rotation for another 5 to 10 seconds.
  3. Do 3 to 5 repetitions.

7. Forward fold

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and arms crossed in front of you.
  2. Being mindful of your balance, slowly bend at the waist to bring your elbows to rest on your knees. Let your head and neck relax. 
  3. Hold for a few seconds and slowly return to the starting position.
  4. Do 2 to 3 repetitions.  

8. Wall leg rests

  1. Lie on your back on a bed or the floor with your backside 6 inches or so from the wall. 
  2. Bring your legs up so they’re straight and the backs of your ankles are touching the wall. You’ll be in an “L” shape.
  3. Hold as long as you like.

Learn More About Physical Therapy and Rehab at Baptist Health

The stretches above are for anyone who wants to stay loose and comfortable during a long travel day. If you have an injury or surgery that requires therapy for your muscles and joints, Baptist Health provides excellent physical therapy and rehabilitation services. Learn more today. 


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