Easy Exercises to Do on the Plane

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Nov 07, 2016

by KATE PHILLIPS, Digital Producer

Sitting for prolonged periods can cause discomfort so it’s important to stretch your body and exercise when flying (without disturbing those around you). Here, physiotherapist Elise Lenssen, the founder of Project Posture, shares her best exercises to do on the plane.

Neck rotation stretch

Sitting in a relaxed upright position, gently tuck your chin in and slowly turn your head to look over your right shoulder until you feel slight tension through the left side of your neck. Return your head to the centre, repeat the chin tuck and slowly turn your head to look over your left shoulder until you feel slight tension through the right side of your neck. Return your head to the centre. Repeat this stretch five times in each direction.

Upper back stretch

Sitting in a relaxed upright position, put your hands behind your head. Breathe in deeply and, as you slowly exhale, round your spine forward, placing the crown of your head between your knees. Slowly return to sitting up, imagining you are stacking each vertebra on top of the next like building blocks. Repeat this stretch five times.

Posture activation exercise

This exercise can be performed either standing or sitting. If standing, lean against a wall with your head, shoulders and hips touching it and your feet slightly away from the wall. Alternatively, sit with your hips right back in your seat. Press your head gently into your headrest, tuck your chin in slightly and take a deep breath. As you exhale, slide your shoulder blades back and into the seat. Draw your lower abdominal muscles into your spine. Breathe gently and hold for five breaths. Ensure your head stays on the headrest. Repeat this stretch three times.

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Upper neck stretch

Sit with your head pressed gently into your headrest or, if standing, against a wall. Keep the muscles at the front of your neck very relaxed and your lips closed. With your head continually touching the headrest, nod your chin down, hold for five seconds then relax. Repeat this stretch 20 times.

Leg stretch

Stand and hold onto something for balance. Lift your left foot towards your bottom and hold it in place with your left hand. Keeping your knees in line with each other, tuck your tailbone under, draw your lower abdominal muscles in and feel the stretch down the front of your thigh. Hold for 36 seconds. Repeat with your right leg.

Leg and lumbar spine stretch

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with the weight centred between your heels and toes. Breathe in deeply, exhale and draw your lower abdominal muscles into your spine as you curl forward towards the floor. Keep your arms relaxed, reaching to the ground, and keep your knees slightly bent. Visualise your spine like a chain moving one link at a time. Once you feel the stretch in the back of your legs, inhale, then exhale as you draw your lower abdominal muscles into your spine and slowly return to standing. Imagine stacking your spine, one vertebra at a time. Repeat this stretch five times.

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