For many people, traveling is a fulfilling, rewarding experience. It doesn’t only widen social networks but perspectives, too.
But while traveling can offer so much for one’s mind and soul, it can take a toll on your body as well. How come, you ask?
Frequent travelers probably understand how it is to feel “tight” especially when you’re traveling by road. You are required to sit in a car, a train or a bus for hours on end, leaving you in an immobile state.
Here’s the thing:
Any means of transportation that leaves you immobile – whether it’s by car, boat or plane – can put you at a higher risk of muscle soreness or worse, pulmonary embolism.
But you can alleviate this butt-numbing torture and your risk of diseases by doing a simple trick: stretching!
The importance of stretching can’t be emphasized enough – stopping at every opportunity you can get to do a few stretches can make a huge difference.
Want to know what stretching exercises you can perform during your trip? We’ve got it all covered in a handy list, too. Keep reading and discover how you can maximize your trips!
Benefits of Stretching
A five to ten-minute stretch break can do so much for you. From preventing muscle stiffness to reducing your risk of injuries, it pays to stop for a while to stretch your muscles. Take a look at how stretching can benefit you:
Stretching reduces muscle stiffness and pain
Wondering what happens when you remain immobile for long? Your muscles shorten and tighten.
When this happens, you will find it difficult to straighten or extend your body parts such as your knees, and sudden movements can put you at a greater risk for joint pain, muscle strain or even muscle injury.
Stretching helps to keep your muscles flexible. As a result, your range of motion improves and any movement, even if it’s sudden, won’t pressure your muscles too much.
Regular stretching has been found to reduce muscle stiffness, pain levels, and even muscle cramps. With an enhanced range of motion, your risk of injuries decreases, too.
Stretching reduces your risk of injuries
Stretches are usually done before any strenuous physical work to prepare the muscles for all the movements that are about to come.
When you’re traveling, you are always on the move, and usually, the days are spent on walking, exploring tourist sites. You may even be up for some adventure and go on a hike, which will require your muscles to work extra hard.
Stretching helps to prepare your muscles and tendons for all the work, preventing your risk of sprains, strains, and injuries.
Stretching relieves stress
Chronic stress can lead to a number of adverse effects from simple muscle and joint pains to increased feelings of exhaustion, mental tension, anxiety, and depression.
Stretching helps to relieve stress by easing the tension in the body. When performed with some mindful breathing techniques, it can even alleviate depression and anxiety.
Stretching enhances body functions
Long hours of immobility and poor body mechanics can lead to improper posture and tight, tensed, and contracted muscles. As a result, your muscles become weaker and more vulnerable.
Stretching boosts muscle flexibility, helping to ensure that the body can function more effectively in all sorts of activity and movement.
Stretching enhances blood circulation
Staying seated for long hours can hamper regular blood flow and circulation. Doing some form of flexibility training such as stretching exercises can enhance blood circulation.
Improved blood circulation also means better transport of oxygen and nutrients throughout your body.
Stretching promotes good digestion
Uh-huh, stretching can enhance your digestion, too! Stretching allows your body to bend in positions that affect energy flow. It’s also believed to minimize inflammation and improve the blood flow to the bowels.
Some yoga stretches are believed to stimulate digestive fire and ease indigestion and constipation. You can perform these yoga moves in your hotel room after you’ve devoured a luscious, hearty meal!
Stretching helps to relieve a headache
Just like how your muscles and joints experience pain after being tensed from extended hours of immobility, your head tends to ache too when tension starts to build up in your neck muscles and scalp.
Stretching helps to ease a headache by reducing muscle tension in these areas. By performing some stretching exercises like neck rolls, you can relieve a headache.
Stretching eases anxiety
If you’re feeling a little anxious, try stretching too! Stretching is also a beneficial relaxation technique as it helps you to focus on your breathing as well.
By taking deep breaths while you stretch, you are helping to rid your mind of racing thoughts that usually make your anxiety worse.
Stretching reduces the risk of wear and tear on joints
Chronically tense and tight muscles may cause weakness to opposing muscles leading to wear and tear on joints. Regular stretching allows the muscles on joints to keep a healthy degree of pull for optimum movement and reduced stress on the body.
Stretching boosts health
Want to boost your health? Performing stretching exercises such as static stretching can help improve your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate, resulting in better health.
Stretching improves your posture
Poor posture may cause various problems including undue tension and pain in your neck, back, and shoulders. In some cases, it may even cause a headache.
On the other hand, an enhanced posture not only makes you look smart and sharp but lets you enjoy health perks too such as increased energy levels, and improved digestion and circulation.
Luckily, stretching exercises assist in enhancing your posture as well!
Performing flexibility exercises such as chest stretch, upper back stretch, forearm stretch, and torso stretch help to improve your body’s alignment, giving you a better posture.
Stretching promotes quality of life
While we may experience physiological changes as we age, squeezing in some form of physical activity in our daily routine as simple as performing stretching exercises can make a difference.
Performing range of motion exercises can significantly enhance your flexibility no matter how young or old you are, helping to promote longevity and overall life quality.
How to Start Stretching When Traveling
Some people may find stretching exercises overwhelming, especially that our bodies are made up of various muscles.
Experts, however, emphasize that you don’t have to pressure yourself too much. You are not required to stretch every muscle you can think of, only the ones that are crucial for your mobility.
These include your lower extremities (hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, and hip flexors), shoulders, neck, and lower back.
Try your best to perform stretching exercises daily or at least three to four times a week. If you have chronic diseases, though, like arthritis or Parkinson’s disease, it’s better to consult with an expert.
Sound professional advice is essential when you have such health conditions to be properly guided about a new stretching routine. Otherwise, you can perform these simple stretching exercises when you’re traveling:
Since traveling requires lots of walking, it is essential to enhance your ankle’s range of motion. Performing ankle circles helps to do just that.
Seated or lying, lift your leg up and start to move your ankle in a circular motion. Repeat 10 times for each direction.
Headaches are also sometimes caused by the tension building up in your neck. You don’t want to nurse a headache while traveling so it is important to stretch your muscles around this area, too.
To perform neck rolls, begin by sitting up straight and relaxing your shoulders. Then, slowly tilt your head down and roll it back and around to your right shoulder.
Perform this process with the other side, rolling back your head and around to your left shoulder. Repeat this movement 5 to 10 times for each direction.
Chest stretch is one of the best exercises to improve your range of motion, posture, and even blood circulation.
Simply lift your arms straight up and stretch as far as you can. Hold this position for five seconds. If you don’t have any problems with your shoulders, you can perform other varieties of this stretch.
Take your arms behind your back, and keep them straight. Clasp your hands if you can, and gently lift your arms a few inches up until you feel a stretch in your chest. Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds.
Get rid of the stress and tension building up in your shoulders by performing shoulder rolls! This flexibility exercise is a great way to reduce the pain and stiffness within this area.
Seated or standing, pull your shoulders up to your ears and rotate them forward in big circles. Repeat this in a backward motion, performing 5 rolls per direction.
Sitting for hours on end while you’re traveling may adversely affect your balance and mobility. It may also lead to increased risk of, especially when you move in haste.
To prevent this from happening, you can do leg stretches. Aside from enhancing your muscles’ flexibility and your range of motion, leg stretches also improve your posture and blood circulation.
Stand up straight and raise your right leg behind you, grabbing hold of your right ankle. Lift your leg as high as you can, and hold this position for a few seconds.
Repeat this with your left leg and perform these steps 8 to 10 times per leg.
Whatever movement it is that makes your body feel good, do it! It doesn’t matter if it is a short but brisk walk or a simple stretching routine.
If your body feels lighter and more energized after doing it, chances are it’s great for you! Don’t let muscle tension and strain ruin your trip.
By performing basic flexibility exercises, you can reap the benefits of stretching and maximize your travels!