Three planes in three days – it’s turning into a week. I can assure you I do not feel as glamorous as George Clooney or Vera Farmiga right now.
But despite the seven litres of water I’ve consumed over a “coffee” date with a girlfriend today… I’m in fairly good knick. That’s thanks to 3 simple habits I’ve developed that mean I can walk off the plane with my head held high rather than feeling twice my age in achy bones and a raspy voice that’s only good for singing Betty Davis Eyes.
So this week we’re switching tack. This week I’m sharing with you my secrets for staying pepp’d after plane rides.
And there’s a worksheet at the bottom of the page for you – below where I usually post the video transcript and relevant links. You’ll want to take a look at that one for some exercises to keep you on your game on the long haul.
If you’re travelling this week, take care of yourself. Heck, take care of yourself even if you’re not travelling.
Video transcript and relevant links
This week I’m switching tack a little bit. I am 2 days into 3 days of everyday being on a plane and it’s driving me slightly mental.
It’s not something I do so much at the moment, but I have, in the past flown a lot for work and I’m sure many of you out there can empathize with getting on and off planes and living in and out of hotel rooms.
Today I thought what I would do is actually share some of my strategies for coping with all of that. I find it just wrecks my body getting on and off planes and sitting down all the time.
So on a slightly different note, I thought today what I would do is share with you some of the stretches that I use, and the techniques that I use to keep my body feeling good when I’m going through all of this travel.
There’s a couple of things that I always do before I fly and the days following. The first up is make sure I’m really hydrated so lots and lots and lots of water. You’ve heard it before, everyone will keep telling you this. Keep drinking.
So making sure I’m really hydrated before I get on the plane. I also really like to up my dose of fruit and veggies right before a flight and afterwards. My favourite way to do this is like a really massive fruit smoothie where I can just chow-down on a whole bunch of fruit in one go.
Not only for the Vitamin C, but all of those micronutrients in your berries, in your sweet fruits… I find again, it’s another great way to get a lot of water and fibre into your body which is really helpful to try and counter some of the effects of flying.
And I actually like to start “pre-loading” – I’ll do that before I fly and I’ll do it the day that I fly and the day after as well, so I’m getting a double-dose of fruit.
Stretching’s the third thing. So for me, I have an old lower back injury. I get lower back pain if I don’t look after my body and flying just seems to be one of those things that really sets it off.
It’s being crammed in a small space, it’s not being able to move freely, it absolutely ruins me if I’m not careful. So I have been known to actually stretch at the airport before getting on a flight. And I will take the quirky looks because I know that it’s going to mean that I feel so much better when I get off the plane at the other end.
But if you’ve already got on the plane and you’re off the other end, what I thought I’d do is down the bottom and where I usually post the transcript, I’ll post some links through and some pictures of the stretches that I use to help keep my body feeling really good.
For me it’s about keeping that lower back safe, so rather than compressing down into, and all of that downward force that happens when I’m sitting for a long period of time, I need to just stretch back out again and give myself some space after a long flight.
The other place that I feel it is in my hamstrings – they tighten up incredibly. (They also do it when you’re sitting at the desk everyday). So hamstrings is another big area for me.
And hips. The outside of my hips will often tighten up and that’s one that I actually don’t feel, so it can be hard to ascertain what’s going on. But once my hips tighten up, it actually throws out everything else that’s going on in my core and sort of that hip, pelvic region, and that can mean that I end up just hanging off my lower back again and it’s a real pain point for me.
So, I’ve got a few stretches for each!
First up, lower back, I’m going to show you a seated stretch. Super simple: Sitting cross-legged, reaching up and over and making sure that you’re giving yourself some space as you stretch out to either side. That one’s really lovely. So we’ll just do a really simple seated stretch.
The other stretch that I’m going to give you is one that will also help for your hips (and sciatica!). It’s called “butterfly pose” in yoga. And it’s a stretch, again, seated on the floor, picture your feet sort of cross-legged and then laying back down onto a cushion or a bolster so that your back’s supported.
And actually I like to hold this pose for as long as I can, so I’ll often do 10-20 minutes lying on my back, in butterfly pose. It’s a great way to stretch out that back really really gently, give yourself some space, and it also allows you to open the hips. You want to make sure that you’re really well supported under your knees when you do that stretch – but I’ll pop all of that in the notes.
The other stretch that I like to do for my hips is one called “gomukasana”. Which will probably kill most of you, it kills me every time I do it. It’s another seated stretch where you actually sort of cross your legs over in front and then fold forward. It gets right into the outer hip. That’s pretty full on. There’s another way you can do it, and I’m going to give you a couple of twists to do.
So. Lying on your back and folding the knees over to one side, and then over the other. Just really gentle. Whether it’s wind-shield-wipering your legs back and forth, so that you’ve got a little bit of movement, or actually allowing the knees to fall to one side and to hold that pose for a little bit longer. That’s another good way to get into some of the same areas that that gomukasana stretch will do, but it’s not quite as intense.
So I’ve got a couple of twists where you can be laying down on your back, and just folding the knees side to side, we’ll pop those in there for you.
One word of caution, if you’re… so for me I actually really like twisting, that’s one of the things that’s one of the things that helps to loosen up my back. But if you are sitting and twisting, as I know a lot of us in our chairs will often do “this”. You just need to be really careful because if you are not actively lifting as you twist, what happens is that you’re actually putting all of that weight into your spine and then crunching through – that can actually make your back pain worse, rather than better.
So I always like to lay on my back if I’m doing a twist, because that way, I’m not putting that compression into my spine, I’ve got the ability to stretch and lengthen and can sort of wriggle your way through and get a bit more length in there as you need to.
The last two stretches that I’ve got for you are for your hammies. So runners stretch, which you can do at any point in the day, I actually find this one gets into my lower back as well if I get it just right, so that’s great.
And the final stretch for your hammies that I’ve got is a little exercise that yogis will be familiar with called “legs up the wall”. Again, this is one of those poses that you can hold for 10, 20, 30 minutes even. It’s pretty simple. It’s laying on your back, with your butt up against a wall and stick your feet up in the air, so that your heels are laying back on the wall as well. So you’re at a 90 degree angle.
And to be honest, as long as you can do in that pose is excellent for you. It’s great for returning blood flow, and the circulation – for those of you that swell up on planes as I do periodically – and it’ll also help to get into just lengthening through those legs and through those hamstrings. Again you’ve got the pressure off your back, you’ve got that space that you can move and wriggle and lengthen.
So! I’m gonna drop some photos and some pictures and some imagery and some notes down below. I might even do that in a little word document if it ends up becoming a tome. But, I hope you enjoy.
I hope for those of you that are flying this week that you are taking care of yourselves when you do it. Keep hydrated, keep the fruits up, make sure that you’re stretching at either end, just to get out all of those gnarly kinks after sitting down for so long.
Have a wonderful week!