All the Stretches You Need for Pain-Free Holiday Travel

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For many of us, the holidays mean traveling, and that means spending hours in a cramped space where your body endures a lack of support that wreaks havoc on everything from your lumbar and cervical spine to you chest and back. Luckily, there are some small steps you can take to save your spine and even get in a little exercise during the holidays.

Pelvic Tilting

  • Sit on the edge of your chair, chest upright, shoulders down and back, and feet hip width apart.
  • Flatten your lower back by rolling your pelvis backward.
  • Arch your lower back by rotating your pelvis forward.
  • Be sure to maintain an upright posture through both movements.
  • Repeat 20 times each direction

Pelvic Rocking

  • Sit on the edge of your chair, chest upright, shoulders down and back, and feet hip width apart.
  • Lift your right pelvis upward toward your right shoulder.
  • Return to starting position.
  • Lift your left pelvis upward toward your left shoulder.
  • Be sure to maintain upright posture throughout the exercise.
  • Alternate side to side 20 times.

Scapular Squeezing

  • Sit on the edge of your chair, chest upright, shoulders down and back, and feet hip width apart.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades down and back toward your spine.
  • Hold position for three seconds.
  • Be sure to maintain upright posture throughout.
  • Repeat 20 times.

These moves are great to rebalance yourself after traveling, but the work shouldn’t stop once you’ve arrived at your destination. You'll thank yourself later if you at least do a few simple exercises to keep your body balanced and strong — no gym required.

Pec Release

  • Stand facing the wall.
  • Place the lacrosse ball two inches below the collarbone and toward your armpit.
  • Move the ball right and left until you find a tender area.
  • Move your arm and shoulder forward and back, then up and down.
  • Lean your body into the ball as much as you can tolerate.
  • Do these movements for 45 seconds or until the tension resolves.

Upper Trap and Levator Scapula Release

Stand with your shoulder under a bar or with a lacrosse ball placed halfway between the neck and edge of the shoulder on the restricted side.

Upper Trap:

  • Move left and right until you find a tender area.
  • Next, shrug your shoulder up and down for 45 seconds or until the tension resolves.

Levator Scapula:

  • Look down and toward the armpit opposite the bar, then look back up.
  • Repeat for 45 seconds or until the tension resolves.

Hip Flexor Release

  • Lie on your stomach and place a lacrosse ball just below your hip bone.
  • Lean a tolerable amount of weight onto the lacrosse ball.
  • Bend the knee on the side of the release back to a 90-degree angle.
  • Swing your leg side to side in a tolerable range of motion.
  • Repeat this in 30-second to two-minute intervals.

Forward-Reaching Lunges

  • Start in a split stance with one foot in front of you and the other behind you.
  • Bring back knee toward the floor so both legs form two 90-degree angles, hips slightly higher than knees, weight through the heel of the front foot.
  • Hold stance, hinge from hips and bend forward as if you are reaching for something in front of you on the floor.
  • Keep back flat.
  • Repeat.

Side-to-Side Lunges

  • Get in your lunge position.
  • Hold stance, side-bend from your torso to the right and left.
  • Repeat.

Rotational Lunges

  • Get in your lunge position.
  • Hold this stance and then twist your torso to the right and left.
  • Repeat.

Up-and-Down Lunges

  • Get in your lunge position.
  • Bring back knee toward the floor so both legs form two 90-degree angles with your hips going straight down to the ground.
  • The front knee should move forward as little as possible and should never pass the toes.
  • Drive hips straight back up to come out of the lunge.
  • Repeat.

Inner Thigh Squats

  • Place feet shoulder width apart with your toes pointed out at a 45-degree angle. Weight should be placed through your heels.
  • As you begin to squat, bring your hips back like you are sitting in a chair that is too far behind you.
  • While squatting, try to move your knees out.
  • Go as low as you can, then push back up through your heels, repeat.
  • Repeat exercise with weight through the balls of your feet.