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With spring break just around the corner, lots of people are getting ready to pack their bags for a vacation! Between booking the trip, planning an itinerary, and packing for the trip, we often forget about the most dreaded part of traveling: being stuck in a car or plane for hours at a time. What’s worse than starting your vacation and being too sore to move? Next time you travel, try these stretches to prevent that awful cramping and make the most of your vacation!

Stretches You Can Do in the Car (Or Plane, Or Train)

1. Calf Raises

Did you know that not moving during a long flight can increase your risk of blood clots? It’s recommended you get up and walk around the plane every 2-3 hours. But sometimes that just isn’t possible. If you don’t want to wake your sleeping aisle mates, try some calf raises to promote blood circulation!

Start with both feet flat on the floor. Steadily lift your heels off the ground, keeping the weight in the balls of your feet. You should feel your calf muscles tightening slightly. Lower back to your starting position and repeat. Try doing ten or twenty every hour to keep your blood from pooling in your legs.

2. Trap Stretch

It can be nice to sleep the drive away and wake up at your destination. What isn’t nice is waking up with a stiff neck! A few repetitions of this trap stretch should help alleviate any post-nap stiffness!

Start by sitting up straight and positioning your head so you are looking straight ahead. Next, place your right hand on top of your head so you can gently pull your head to the right. Depending on how much space you have, you can put your left hand on your left shoulder, behind your back, or at your side. Hold this stretch for a few seconds before returning to your starting position. Repeat five times on each side.

3. Hamstring Stretch

If you’re lucky enough to be traveling in a spacious car, or booked a seat with extra legroom, try these hamstring stretches to avoid stiff legs when you get out of the car or off the plane.

Sit towards the front of your seat. Extend one leg out, keeping your toes towards the sky. With your back straight, gently lean forwards until you can feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 3-5 times on each side.

4. Cervical Retractions

If you spend most of your ride reading a book or playing on your phone, you may get a stiff neck from looking down so much. These cervical retractions can help reduce any neck pain after a long Candy Crush session.

Start by sitting up straight and looking forward at eye level. Place your index and middle finger on your chin as you slowly draw your neck back. Once your ears are in line with your shoulders, hold this position for one second before returning back to your starting position.

Rest Stop and Layover Stretches

Finally, a break to stand up! Even if you’ve been stretching in your seat during the ride, a layover or rest stop is the perfect place to get rid of any extra stiffness and get your body moving! These four exercises will help move the joints that you don’t have the space to stretch out in your seat!

1. Lumbar Extension

Even with the stretches you did in your seat, your back ends up stuck in one position for most of the ride. This stretch will help loosen up your lower back before getting back on the road!

Start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Place your hands on your back, resting just above your pelvis. (Note: you can do this with a railing or other sturdy surface behind your back for extra balance). Gently extend your spine backwards over your hands until you feel a stretch in the low back. Hold for a few seconds before returning to start. Try ten or twenty of these, and then reassess to see how you feel.

2. Upper Trunk Rotations

Now that you’ve shown your lower back some love, it’s time to do the same for your upper back!

To start, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Step forward with your right foot and position your left foot so it is pointing outwards (45 to 90 degrees depending on your comfort). Bring your arms up in front of you and touch your fingers together. Slowly draw your left arm out, tracing the shape of a half circle. Keeping your hips still, you should only guide this movement with your upper body. Hold for one second before returning to starting position. Try these five to ten times, and then switch your feet to repeat on the opposite side.

3. Arm Circle

Other than grabbing snacks or a new book, your arms don’t get much time (or space) to move around when traveling. These arm circles will fix any shoulder stiffness you have from your trip.

Starting with your feet shoulder width apart. Bring your arms up so they are parallel with the ground (if you have limited shoulder mobility, lift your arms as high as comfortable for you). With your arms extended, gently make circles with both arms. It’s okay to start with small movements. Start by making circles the size of a grape, then moving to apple sized circles, then cantaloupe sized circles.

4. Hip Flexor Stretch

Sitting for a long time can cause your hip flexors to tighten. If you have difficulty taking big steps when you first get up, the culprit is likely a tight hip flexor. Try this stretch to loosen your hips and make walking through the airport during your layover an easier experience!

Stand in front of a chair, bench, or other stable surface. Take one foot and place it on the bench. Now, lean into the stretch by bending your elevated knee as you lean forward. Once you feel a slight stretch in the leg on the ground, hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Do two or three of these on each leg and try walking again – you’ll notice how much easier it is after this stretch!

Final Notes

You’ve been counting down the days to your trip and want to make the most of it. Don’t let pain and stiffness get in your way. By stretching regularly throughout the trip, you’re stopping stiffness in its tracks. Once you get to your destination, you’ll be ready to make the most of your trip without being limited by pain and stiffness.