Holiday Travel Stretches - Loosen up tight muscles with these six moves

Published: November 22nd, 2012 | Author: Editors of Better for You

Have holidays, will travel—and sit, and sit, and sit some more. Too much sitting—whether on wheels or wings—shortens the connective tissues that link your muscles to your bones, leaving the body tense and stiff.

Fortunately, stretching can loosen you back up by lengthening the muscles and connective tissues, says Robert Forster, physical therapist and founder of Phase IV Health and Performance Center in Santa Monica, CA. “Stretching is something to do every day,” he says. It helps you relax, maintain posture and joint health, and prepare for better workouts—and after a long day of traveling, it can help you work out the kinks. Try this stretch routine:

How To Do It
Start with 10 deep breaths and make sure to breathe slowly from your belly throughout the stretches. If you feel slightly stiff, spend just 5 to 10 seconds in each stretch. If you feel super-tight, hold each position for 30 seconds to 1 minute and repeat each stretch twice. For the floor portion of the routine, use a mat or towel on the ground.

1. Cross Chest: Cross your left arm in front of your chest, hold your left triceps with your right hand, and gently pull your left arm across your body. Keep your shoulders down and square, and don’t pull too hard. Switch arms, crossing right arm in front.

2. Standing Upper Trap: Reach your arms behind your back, hold your right wrist with your left hand, and gently pull your right arm down and to the left. Bring your chin to your chest and look toward your left armpit, keeping your head down. Keep your shoulders square, and don’t pull too hard. Switch arms, holding left wrist with right hand.

3. Pretzel: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on ground, hip-width apart. Cross your right leg over your left leg, knee over knee. Place your right hand on your right knee and your left hand on your right shin. Gently pull your right knee toward your left shoulder. Keep your shoulders back. Switch legs, with left leg over right leg.

4. Side-Lying Quad: Lie on your left side with your head resting on your left arm and your hips perpendicular to the ground. Bend your right knee, hold the top of your right foot with your right hand, and gently pull your heel toward your butt. You should feel a stretch in the front of your leg, but don’t pull too hard. Switch sides, lying on your right side.

5. Cat Back: Come to all fours with knees hip-width apart and shoulders over hands. Arch the middle of your back up toward the ceiling and let your head and neck hang. Keep your arms and thighs straight.

6. Prayer: From all fours, sit back on your heels as you reach your hands out in front of you.

—Nina Lincoff