I’ve talked a lot about what to do prior to flying. Or at least what not to do (Reminder: Avoid sitting at the gate. Walk, Squat. March. Just don’t sit before you sit).

But what to do once you’re on that 10 hour flight? How to counter some of the circulation, postural and tightness issues that are a part of the long haul flight?

Here are some of my personal strategies to squeeze some movement into the journey.

Stand Up

This is an obvious one, although it can be hard to figure out how or where to stand. Personally, I wait for a bathroom line up to form. An odd choice perhaps, but I see a line up as an opportunity – a justified, permissible, 10 minute period of non sitting.  (I went to a 3 hour play recently and used this series in the 15 minute bathroom lineup).

Don’t Just Stand There

Now that we’re upright we can do some movement to get the blood flowing and un crumple. Obviously we can’t go into full on jumping jacks and squats but there are some smaller more subtle moves that take little space and are still really helpful.

The bigger themes listed here are followed by a short video demo.

  1. Calf Pumps. Heel lifts. Lift & Lower. Running (Pilates style). Single Foot Rises. Any and all. Get that circulation going by pumping the calves. Sitting versions can be done – but loaded in standing is way better.
  2. Hip Moves. Some kind of hip motion to alleviate that stiffness. Pedestrian Hinge and Rotation are my top choices.
  3. Shoulder Moves. Shrugs. Rolls. Outward Arm Spirals. Something to mobilize.
  4. Torso Rotation. Stand tall. Hands clasped in front of the chest. Twist side to side. Alternatively, keep the arms long by the sides and swing the arms to mimic walking.

    Or check out a standing video sequence here.

And sitting options?

The upper body options can be done sitting as upright as possible. Usually this means sliding forward to towards the front of the seat as much as space allows.

The shoulder rolls and rotations can be done here and a nice addition is to place your hands behind the neck or on the chest.. Lift the sternum to the ceiling taking a deep breath in. Gently reverse that, rounding forward slightly.

Repeat gently back and forth several times. 

You can view some of these sitting options in my short in flight video.

Combine these movement breaks with some deep breathing, brisk walking before and after the flight and a stroll around the luggage carousel. Will you feel great after 10 hours on a plane? No. You’ll still feel crummy and crumpled. The idea is to mitigate the harsh effects of flying – not to eradictate them, to support the body so it more quickly rebounds.

Get into the habit of moving in line ups and it’s amazing how much motion you can fit into life.

On a side note, I realize it might also depend on your comfort level with how much you’re willing to move strangely in public places. My husband for instance, said “not a chance: to many of my ideas except the calf pumps and shoulder shrugs.

Personally I think fidgeting and stretching should have more of an acceptable spot in society.

Together we can start a movement.

Stay well. Keep moving.

Overwhelmed and unsure where to start? Ask us. We can work with you to set up a personal program. laura@pilatesprocess.ca.