Have you been stuck in one position for hours while travelling? Do you end up stiff and sore while in the car or on a plane? Incorporating myofascial release while travelling can greatly minimize your travel discomforts. All you will need is the chair you are sitting in and possibly a four-inch therapy ball. Give these a try to make your travelling more comfortable.
Quick Myofascial self-care reminders:
• SLOWLY move into and out of the stretch.
• STOP at the first sensation change (pull, tight, glitch in quality of movement). This is a restriction.
• WAIT and breathe into the sensation until you feel the sensation lessen. This is the release.
• Slowly move to the next restriction and repeat the process for a total of 3-5 minutes.
• NEVER force. If you aren’t feeling the sensation lighten or release then you are too far into the stretch. Back out slightly and wait for the release.
Try one or more of the following stretches:
1. Seated Neck Sidebend – Place one hand on your opposite shoulder, letting it sink in, like making handprints in soft clay. Drop your shoulders and let the weight of your arm “anchor” the soft tissue here. Slowly allow your head to tip away from your hand until you meet slight resistance (barrier). Wait for the release and then slowly move to the next restriction. Repeat on opposite side.
2. Ball (4”, Franklin, or tennis balls) –
a. Behind Back – Place ball along your back, lower ribs to the upper back works the best. Find a spot that feels good, but is not really sore. Start by letting your buttocks sink into the chair, then SLOWLY let your back soften into the ball (start with your lower back and work your way up to the upper back). Stop at each restriction, breathe into it and wait for the release. NOTE: Placing the ball in the toe of a tube sock and holding onto the other end helps you position the ball with ease. **DO NOT ATTEMPT if you are the driver of a vehicle.**
b. Under Thigh – Place the ball anywhere under the back of your thigh. Find a spot that feels good. Start by letting your buttocks sink into the chair and your leg to become heavy into the ball. After you feel your body start to soften then SLOWLY lean forward until you feel a change in sensation (this could be at the leg, in the pelvis or even the back), WAIT there until you feel it soften. Continue for at least 3-5 minutes.
3. Standing Stretches: When you are able to stand and move more freely, try these movement based exercises.
a. Spinal rotations – Inhale and then as you slowly exhale, GENTLY twist to one side. Hold for a breath, then inhale and on the next inhale GENTLY twist to the other side. Repeat 5-10x on each side following your breath cycle. You should never feel any discomfort.
b. Forward curl – Inhale and then on your exhale slowly let your head roll forward, then let the rest of the spine roll forward, each vertebrae at a time (stopping when you feel a slight pull). Again, never push or force your body, but try to allow gravity to bring you forward. Hold for 1-2 breaths and then as you inhale gently curl back up, allowing your head to be the last part to come up. Repeat 3-5x.
Our bodies have a difficult time sitting for prolonged periods of time and can get very uncomfortable. So, the next time you’re ‘on the road again’, take a few minutes every so often to try one or more of these techniques – ideally before you start feeling the telltale twinges of pain. A small investment of time, and a little space in a carry-on for a therapy ball, can help minimize or eliminate the common aches and cramps from your travels.