Keep moving whilst on a flight (and/or even at your desk)
I am sure we all stretch, stand up and walk around a bit when we’re on a long-haul flight; and even when we’re at the office, sitting for long hours a day. Our bodies are not made to be / stay still all the time – movement is vital. Not only to keep blood circulation going, but also to maintain the oxygen-flow in and out of the body. Here are a few exercises / movements that you can do, whether you are in an aeroplane or at your office desk.
- Heel and toe lifts: sitting up straight, with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, lift your heels up (as if you are standing on your toes). Then leave your heels on the floor and lift your toes. Repeat this a number of times (with or without shoes on, as long as the shoes or socks don’t pinch you).
- Head-, neck-, and shoulder rolls: slowly drop your chin to your chest, then slowly roll it to the right and left. Another way is to keep your head up and look over to the right-, then left-side. You can also tilt your head (as if you want to touch your shoulder with your ear), to the right and to the left. Please do this slowly and never roll the head back. You can look slightly up at the ceiling, but never “squash” your neck vertebrae. Not only is it bad for circulation, but it is also dangerous, as the neck vertebrae is not as thick as the rest of the vertebrae in your spine
- Flexing and pointing your feet and hands are another easy way to keep the blood flowing.
- Flinger flicks / Castanets: spread out your finger, then bring your pinkies in toward the centre of the “heels” of your hands, then back out, without moving any of your other fingers. Do this 10 times, then repeat with the other fingers. Now do one finger at a time (as if you are playing castanets). To do the flicks, simply imagine that you are flicking water off your fingers, by tapping your thumb with each finger individually.
- Fanning the toes: Spread out your fingers and/or your toes (if you’re not wearing shoes) as if they are a fan; in other words, try to create spaces in-between your fingers and toes.
- Picking up a pencil: Imagine that you have to use your toes to pick up a pencil on the floor. Curl the toes, then relax them. Repeat a few times.
- Do the same as above, but instead arch your foot as if you have to pick the pencil up by lifting part of your foot up as well as your toes.
- Stretching: Interlink your fingers and, if you don’t know your neighbour, straighten your arms in the air and stretch your back. This is a good way to separate the vertebrae and get oxygen and blood flowing. This stretch can also be done to the front of the body – you will notice that your shoulder blades curve forward, so make sure to roll the shoulders back once you are sitting upright again.
- Moving slightly forward in your seat, interlock your fingers behind your back, stretch the arms down and lift your head slightly to look up. Again, not above your head, but in front of you towards the roof.
- A good lower back stretch, is to curve your back by pulling the tummy in and imagining that your belly button is touching the seat. Doing this a few times is a good and easy way to release tension in the lower area.
- Another good stretch for your back is to curl down slowly and touch the floor, then gently curl back into a straightened position.
- Crossing your one leg over the other, to form the number 4, lean slightly forward. This will stretch your hips.
- Sitting up straight, twist to the right, then left, making sure not to go too far. It should feel comfortable, not uncomfortable.
- Lastly, you can bring your one bent knee up to your chest, then the other. Starting with the right leg is best, as the lymphatic system functions by flowing up on the right-side of the body towards the heart, then down the left-side of the body.
- Just like sitting, you can stretch your arms overhead or in front of you and reach either up towards the ceiling or as far forward as possible. this can also be done behind you.
- If you have space and nobody is going to be bothered, stretch one arm overhead by bending one / both knees slightly. Bend over to the other side.
- Whilst standing, lift your heels off the floor for 10 times, then bend your knees and, without locking the knees, raise your toes off the floor for 10 times.
- Step out to the front with one leg. Bend the front leg, making sure that the knee is in line with your ankle. Straighten the back leg, trying not to bend the knee, and see if you can put your ankle down on the floor. This is a good stretch for the hips and thighs.
- Standing in the same position as above, bend the back leg, again making sure the knee is not over the toes, and straighten the front leg. Lift the toes off the floor, lean slightly forward, keeping the front leg straightened at all times. Slowly come back up, point and flex the foot and repeat with the other leg. This is a good stretch for the hamstrings.
- Standing in a V-position with your legs evenly spaced, gently bend the one knee and feel the stretch in the inner thigh. Repeat on the other side. And as always, make sure the knees are not over the toes, but rather behind them when you bend your knees.
Flying can be dreaded; especially if it is a very long flight. One can only sleep for so many hours, read for so many hours, and sometimes the chatter can also start to dwindle. Keeping our bodies moving, even when we’re in a small, restricted area like an aeroplane, is not only good for us physically, but also mentally and emotionally. When our bodies move, our minds move, and we have the energy to “hang in there…we are almost at your destination!” Enjoy the flight and remember to stay nourished, hydrated and move around when it is a long-haul flight. Soon enough you will hear: “ladies and gentleman…we have landed!”