The holiday season is the most joyous time of year and also a peak traveling period as many travel all over the world to enjoy quality time with family and friends. And even during these unprecedented times, the long-anticipated reunion with loved ones is expected to prompt an uptick in travel this season.
Traveling during the holidays (and a pandemic) can be very stressful with long lines, flight delays, and hours of sitting in the air and waiting during layovers. However, incorporating simple things to your routine days before departure and doing a few mindful stretches to stay active while traveling can put you at ease.
When we sit for long periods of time, we naturally begin to slouch with an extreme forward head posture because our body falsely believes that this position is the “most comfortable”, especially on a plane. This leads to lower back pain, neck pain, and a groggy mood. Practice mindfulness, meditation and posture awareness to reduce stress and boost your mood after a long plane ride.
Injuries can easily occur when carrying heavy luggage around the airport or storing them in the overhead compartment without using proper body mechanics. Keep these tips in mind to reduce back injury:
- Engage your abs & squeeze your glutes when walking and lifting
- Sit with your back against the seat back
- Don’t lock your knees when lifting
- Use both hands to lift objects and keep heavy items close to body if possible
- If you struggle lifting to chest for overhead reach, ask for help!
Worried you forgot something? Write out a checklist of items to pack (pro-tip: it always feels good to cross things off a list).
Pack neutral colors so you can alter clothing, thereby reducing your luggage load.
Always feel like you’re rushing out the door the day of your flight? Rushing results in quick, improper movements and body mechanics that can later lead to injury. Give yourself at least an hour extra to prepare before leaving the house.
Prevent your muscles from getting tight after a long plane ride by practicing seated stretches for your calf (heel raises and calf squeeze), neck (rotations), back (rotations, flexion and extension), wrist (flexion and extension) and foot (toe lift and ankle rotations).
If you are a habitual snacker, be sure to pack healthy snacks to nibble on while waiting for your flight or enjoying your inflight entertainment. Get enough sleep the night before so you won’t need to hit snooze numerous times the next morning. Most importantly, stay hydrated! Bring your own empty water bottle and fill it up at the airport to avoid having to pay for the unreasonably expensive bottled water.
We tend to hold our breath or take short, light breaths when we are in stressful situations. Remember to take deep breaths and engage your diaphragm to calm your mind and ease your nerves!
Happy traveling and enjoy the holidays!