Sitting on a plane for an extended period of time can be brutal for the body if you don’t get up and move enough. However, it can also be annoying for other people if you decide to get down and get into pigeon pose. So what are some not so disruptive stretches you can do while not being annoying to your other fellow passengers and the crew?
Your goal should be to try to get up one time an hour and perform at least one of these stretches I highlight below. Yes, you may get weird looks from other fellow flyers, but at the end of the day, you’ll be feeling a lot better then them so whatevs. Here are the top five airplane exercises for long flights.
Hip flexor stretch
This one is probably the most important you can do while flying. Sitting for an extended period of time causes the hips to become flexed and therefore super tight. To perform this, stand in the aisle (you don’t have to kneel) but bring one knee down toward the ground while bringing the other foot up and forward. Push forward through your butt. Squeeze hard. Sit in this position for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute. Perform at least 2 times each leg.
Bent over hang
This one may look especially weird to other but since we are sitting in an upright position most of us aren’t sitting up straight so the shoulders will tend to roll forward and the upper back and traps may start to feel tight. Perform this one by standing in the aisle and hinging forward at the hips. Allow your body to just hang and be heavy. Do this for about one minute. Perform it at least 2 times. Try to roll back up to a standing position as slowly as possible to prevent head rushes and to really reap the benefits.
Overhead arm stretches
This one is great for the arms and shoulders. Again, the upper back and traps may become tight from sitting so perform this one ion the aisle by standing. Grab a hold of one write and stretch your body upwards toward the ceiling on the plane. Try not to hit anyone or disrupt anyone but push your hips to one side as you bring your arms up and away in the opposite direction. Repeat 2 to 3 times for 30 seconds each side.
Another standing one and you will definitely need some space for. You’ll have to face some people in an aisle but spread yourself pretty wide and make sure the toes are pointed forward. Push your butt back (to the aisle of people behind you- yes-again awkward but oh well) and shift your weight from side to side. The deeper you can get without your butt being in anyone's face the better. I would say try to hold each side lunge for 5-10 seconds. Any longer you may run the risk of starting a fight so do your best. Repeat 2 to 3 times each side.
Body weight face pull
This is going to simulate a row motion and obviously you won’t be doing this with anything but your body weight but make sure you are squeezing/pinching your shoulder blades in the back together. You can do this standing or if you don’t have anyone in the seat next to you you can also do it seated. You want to make sure you start with your arms fully extended in front of you. (Or as much as you can extend while seated). Then, while keeping your hands level with your shoulders, bring your elbows back while keeping your palms facing down. Pinch your shoulder blades in the back together and hold for 3 seconds. Do two sets of 15 each.
Standing quad stretch
This is another standing stretch and probably the easiest one you can do on a plane. You want to make sure you hold onto a seat or wall and bring one foot up behind you. Bend your foot backwards behind you so you can grab it with your hand and allow that knee to face down. Gently pull the foot until you feel the stretch in the front of the quads. Hold for about 30 seconds. Repeat 2 times each leg.
BONUS Tip: Stay hydrated
Staying adequately hydrated will help with muscle tightness and actually help to prevent jet lag.
Flying is brutal so it is important to try to get up as much as possible and not to stay seated for longer than an hour. If you can manage some of these stretches on your next flight, I guarantee you that you’ll feel better.