Crammed in between two strangers in a Jetstar seat for 9 hours is no one’s idea of travelling comfortably, least of all mine, as I reaffirmed yesterday. Although lucky in the ability to fold myself up in to various positions whilst seated, I noticed that after two hours on the plane my hips and back were already screaming out for some love. Not only do our muscles start to cramp from inactivity, but the massive dehydration project that aeroplanes put on your body only assist in making your muscles tighter and thus our ability to relax fully is jeopardized. So what can you do to help the situation without blowing all your frequent flyers points on an upgrade to premium economy or business class?
Start by drinking lots of water. This not only helps minimise dehydration but also gives you more reasons to get up and stretch your legs. I drink enough water that I need to get up around every 90 minutes or so.
Each time you get up to use the bathroom walk to the end of the plane and then back again (unless meal service is in place and then you’ll get stuck behind the trolley where all you’ll get are constant wafts of the Roast beef and gravy meals being dished up for 40 minutes).
After you’ve used the bathroom head to the very back of the plane where there is normally a bit more space (where, as I yesterday found out there is a deposit of uncomfortable passengers using the spare square metre to stretch out). There are a few stretched you can do that won’t require you to put your hands on the floor and are also a little more plane-acceptable that the Chaturanga-Updog-Downdog favourite of hotels rooms.
1) Stand with feet hip distance apart and facing a wall. Press your palms against the wall at shoulder height and shoulder distance apart. Keep your gaze just slight above the space between your hands and on an inhale press your chest towards the wall. On an exhale keep looking forward but push the wall away from you as you push your spine and shoulder blades back. Repeat 5 times (NB – when the person in the chair in front of your goes to the bathroom you can use the opportunity to do this again, seated, with your hands on the back of their headrest).
2) Turn your back to the wall and lean your bottom against it, with your feet slightly forward and hip distance apart. Bend your knees a little and fold yourself over your legs, taking your hands to your elbows. As a variation you can interlace your hands behind your back and move them behind your head.
3) Keep standing with your back towards the wall and lift one leg in to tree pose (foot on the inner thigh or inner calf muscle). Use one hand on the wall for balance and with the other hand apply some light pressure on to the inside of your raised leg to open the hip.(Repeat other side)
4) Again with the back towards the wall, lift one leg and hug the knee as high in to your chest as you can. Strongly activate your standing thigh by lifting it up and push forward through your hips to work in to the psoas (which gets really tight when we spend so long seated).
When you return to your seat try to move around as much as possible (without causing too much irritation to your neighbour). I often sit with my legs crossed or one foot on the inner thigh, and then change sides. Your hips will thank you for it!
If all else fails then this is an opportunity to practice withdrawl of the senses – and a practice in being able to simply sit.
What are your tips for getting through a long plane trip?