Sore necks and backs aren’t the only thing that can result from a long-haul summer flight. Other potential issues include dehydration, joint swelling and the ever-present possibility of catching a cold, which is why you need to start doing flight stretching exercises.
Stretching regularly during your flight will not only help reduce in-flight stress, but also the risk for more serious problems developing.
Michelle Scott, a STOTT Pilates instructor/trainer at Real Pilates in Dubai, says: “Sitting idle in cramped spaces can increase a number of health risks such as reduced circulation of arterial influx of fresh blood and venous outflow, bloating, blood clotting in the lower leg and increase the risk of back injury.”
To that end, Scott recommends five exercises to rotate through and repeat during flights.
Seated leg lifts – From a neutral seated position, raise one knee toward your chest, enabling the lower back to slightly stretch and then place it back down. Repeat with your other knee. Maintaining a constant circulation of blood through the joints minimizes the risk of deep-vein thrombosis and balances abdominal engagement to support the spine.
Elevated elbow stretch – Raise both hands above the head, grasp the opposite elbow and pull it toward one side until you feel the stretch. Hold the pull for around 15 seconds and repeat with the other elbow.
Seated calf raises – While seated upright, apply pressure to the balls of the feet and slightly raise both the heels off the floor. Slowly release the pressure while lowering the heels. This will help mobilize the ankle joint. Repeat 15 times to increase circulation and reduce swelling of the feet.
Contraction of abdominal muscles – Siting up straight with the spine along the length of the chair, take a deep breath and contract the muscles by holding them for five seconds. Repeat about 10 times every couple of hours during long flights, to keep the abdominal muscles active and improve digestion.
Modified spine twist – Cross your arms over your chest. Take a gentle twist to one side, return to the centre. Keep your chin up and your spine neutral. This activates the spine into rotation, and eases tension in the back and shoulder girdle.