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Staying Healthy While Traveling: Self-Care On The Road

Summer is the season for traveling and it’s no wonder why – the days are longer & warmer, the kids (if you have them) are free from school, and there are more events on the calendar than there are seagulls on the beach.  We head to the mountains, to the beaches, and to the cities to explore new areas or maybe even visit old favorites for new experiences.  If you’re anything like me, your summer trips include a fair amount of walking, like the time my mom and I went to Budapest for a week.  We walked from sight to sight through the city from breakfast through dinnertime every day that we were there and oh boy, were we sore at the end of the day.  The tricky thing with traveling is that we ramp up our activity much more than we realize and this can lead to muscle soreness, strains, or even overuse injuries. Considering that we wait so long to take these trips, it would be a shame to not be able to enjoy them fully day in and day out!

 

Here are some easy stretches that you can do while traveling to manage soreness and prevent overuse injuries to regularly used muscles – this should help to keep you on your feet and strolling about!

 

  1. Knee to chest stretch – 3 x 15 sec each side – this will stretch out your low back muscles and your gluteus maximus in your bottom, which work to stabilize your trunk when standing upright.
    • Lie on your back with your legs straight.
    • Pull one knee into your chest while keeping the other leg on the ground.
  2. Cross body lateral hip stretch – 3 x 15 sec each side – this will stretch your gluteus medius, a muscle on the side of your hip that steadies your pelvis when walking.
    • Lie on your back and march one knee up to 90 deg.
    • Use your opposite hand to pull your knee across your body and stretch the outside of your hip.
    • Don’t let your pelvis roll when you pull your knee across your body or else it the stretch goes into your low back.
  3. Hip flexor stretch – 30-60 sec each side – this will stretch your iliopsoas across the front of your hip, which marches the leg up, as with stepping up the stairs or hiking up an incline.
    •  Lie on your back by the side of your bed and let one hang off the side of the bed. 
    • You can deepen the stretch by holding the opposite knee to your chest.
  4. Sidelying quadriceps stretch – 3 x 15 sec each side – this will stretch your quadriceps down the front of the thigh, which straightens the knee when walking, squatting, going up the stairs, and hiking.  It also helps to lower you when going down the stairs or hiking down.
    • Lie on your side with both hips and knees bent up.
    • Grab the ankle of your top leg and straighten your hip as far as you can to stretch the front of the thigh.
  5. Standing hamstring stretch – 3 x 15 sec each side – this will stretch your hamstrings along the back of the thigh, which bends your knee while walking and often gets tight with sitting in the car or on a plane.
    • Put your foot up on a step in front of you.
    • Keep your knee straight and your toes pointed towards your nose as you bend forward from the hip to stretch the back of the leg.
    • If you don’t have a step available, you can do this without one – you will just bend forward further than if you used one.
  6. Runner’s calf stretch – 3 x 15 sec each side – this will stretch your gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in your calf, which propel you forward when walking and allow you to go on tiptoe to peek over the crowd.
    • Stand near a wall with your hands on it for support.
    • Step one foot back and keep the heel down to stretch the back of the leg.
    • You can deepen the stretch by bending your front knee and leaning forward.
  7. Toe yoga – 1 min each – while these 3 exercises aren’t stretches, they activate the supporting muscles of the foot to relieve stress on your plantar fascia in the sole of the foot.
    • Lift your big toe up while keeping your little toes down on the ground.
    • Lift your little toes up while keeping your big toe down on the ground.
    • Spread your toes as far apart as  you can.