Considered the most travel saturated holiday in the US, many of us will be taking to the road or to the skies to see our family and friends this Thanksgiving. If you're flying try these stretches to keep yourself sane on the plane. And if you're driving I have a few moves to keep your body awake and make good use of your time stuck in traffic.
- Steering wheel isometrics: Using simple isometric exercises, you can work your arms. Start with your hands at nine and three on the steering wheel (just like driver's ed class) and press inward with your arms. Hold for five counts, but keep the tension out of your neck. Repeat four times, and then move your hands to 10 and two and repeat. Changing positions of your hands will work different muscle groups.
- Belly vacuums: This is a great way to work your abs at traffic lights or waiting out a traffic jam. On an exhale simply pull your abs toward your spine without letting your back round. Keep the abs engaged and focus on breathing into the back of your ribs for three to five breaths.
- Glute winks: Your bum can get sore and numb from sitting for so long. This exercise not only works the glutes a bit, it also gets the circulation going once again and can relieve low back pain, too. Simply squeeze your right glute for three to five seconds, release it and switch sides. Repeat for a total of 10 times.
Feeling tense behind the wheel, I have a few remedies so
- Shoulder shrugs: Keeping your hands on the steering wheel, inhale and raise your shoulders to your ears. Exhale allowing your shoulders to drop. Repeat a total of five to 10 times.
- Deep breathing: Don't underestimate the power of breathing to calm yourself down in heavy traffic. Inhale and fill your lungs, then slowly exhale releasing the tension from your upper body.
- Slow shimmy: Channel a slower version of Beyonce's shoulder shimmy to release tension in your upper body. Keep your hands on the wheel, bring your right shoulder forward, then alternate bringing your left one toward the wheel. This move will make your spine twist a bit, which feels great after staring at the road for hours on end.
I also suggest stopping every two hours to stretch your legs. Just walking about a bit can enliven the weary traveler and help you stay alert while driving. I like to stretch my hamstrings by propping my heel on the bumper of the car.