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The practice of stretching has been a part of healthy regimens for thousands of years. These days, the practice has been embraced by the masses, including by travellers. Sitting in cramped quarters during long flights can be very taxing for the body. By simply stretching, travellers can reduce stiffness and avoid pain caused by inflammation by getting their muscles moving through stretch. Simple movements can increase lymphatic flow and blood circulation. Even more significantly, these positive results from stretching can help travellers avoid major health concerns, such as deep vein thrombosis.
In June 2018, Sydney Airport opened Stretch Studio, a premier centre staffed by flexologists. Krystel, one of studio’s flexologists, has provided the best 10 stretches travellers can do on an airplane exclusively to 7travel.
These stretches can be done from any airplane seat. Don't forget to breathe as you move through each of these!
Seated hamstring stretch
Straighten one leg out and tilt the body forwards (slide forward in chair to make this possible, if need be). Lean forward from the hip for hip flexion to stretch hamstrings all along the back of the leg.
Seated glute & hip stretch
Bend one knee so that one ankle lies on the other thigh so the knee drops. Then, lean forward as to put your chest to your leg.
For some people, flexing their feet maximises the effect of the stretch.
Seated chest stretch
Interlace hands and place hands behind the head. This opens up the chest from the back.
Spinal flexion & extension
Tilt the chin to chest and rolling shoulders in, pushing spine out. Then do the opposite by tilting head back and rolling shoulders back. Repeat this flow five times.
Similar to the cat/cow position in yoga, this stretch puts the spine in both flexion and extension.
Seated spinal twist
Turn your entire upper body to one side with one arm behind you and the opposite arm outside of your thigh. Twist and turn to repeat on other side.
This stretch adds rotation to the mix, which is helpful for stretching the lumbar spine.
Tilt the head so that one ear touches one shoulder, then tilt to the other side. Then use an arm to pull the neck gently out and down (hands near the occipital bone). Be careful not to crunch your neck!
Take a walk to the back or front of the plane to get the blood flowing again. Find a bit of space and work through these last stretches.
Grab one ankle behind your back and stretch one quad at a time. Lean forward from hips to add a hip stretch.
Stand against the wall, put one leg forward and flex foot to maximise the stretch in that leg. Switch legs and repeat.
Side body stretch
Interlace your arms and reach them above your head. Then tilt over to one side at a time to stretch the entire side body. Tilt to the opposite side to repeat on the other side.
This stretches the entire lower half. Simple lean forward with gently bent knees so that you can get as close to reaching the floor as possible.
Krystel has recommended a simple regimen for stretching on long haul flights: if you plan on sleeping, stretch before sleeping, go to sleep, get up and walk to do a standing stretches, return to your seat for seated stretches, and repeat the cycle at least one more time.
For the most beneficial stretching, hold each for 20 seconds and repeat each three times.
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