Fight-off the stiffness of long flights and car rides with these tips!

With the holiday season upon us again, and families eager to get together after spending the past two years socially distancing or quarantining, you might be one of the millions of Americans destined to hit the road this winter. Whether traveling by car or by plane, long trips spent sitting in cramped seats or in cold weather can wreak havoc on our muscles and joints. For many, these constrictive sitting conditions result in soreness, stiffness, and discomfort across all areas of the body.

Here are 5 tips to consider this winter when traveling for the holidays:

#1: Stay hydrated

Although many are inclined to hold-back on their water consumption when they are travelling due to the inconvenience of accessing a restroom, supplying one’s body with ample quantities of water is essential to overall health, resilience, and recovery. According to Nutrients, dehydration reduces muscle strength, muscle functioning, and one’s overall functional capacity. This means that without sufficient water, your body will be less able to cope with your changing environment while traveling, the exhaustion from the trip, and your muscles will struggle to recover from sitting for hours on end.

#2: If you are driving, take breaks

Plan to insert a 15-minute rest-stop break every 2 hours of the car journey. Look up these spots in advance on the maps app, as it will help to determine an updated arrival time and an ideal route. Taking these breaks allows all passengers, as well as the driver, to get up, move, and stretch to prevent an accumulation of stiffness over the course of a long ride. Plus, knowing there will be restroom to access at regular intervals helps to encourage everyone to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.

#3: If you are flying, consider wearing compression socks

Sitting for extended periods of time while flying, in combination with the often-awkward position of one’s legs can often cause swelling in the feet, ankles, and lower legs. For many, this can be dangerous and a potential cause of blood clots, as the swelling indicates pooling blood in the lower extremities This means that circulation returning the blood to one’s heart is reduced. Compression socks are a fantastic solution to this problem, as they squeeze the legs to promote better circulation and a reduction in overall swelling.

#4: Regardless of the mode of travel, stretch!

Whether flying or driving, after a long trip everyone should do a handful of lower back, chest and shoulders, or hip and legs stretches to loosen up the muscles and joints, and help the body recover from the journey. For the lower back, an upright seated twist will alleviate tension; for the chest and shoulders, interlocking the hands and reaching above the head and pulling back will create space; and finally, for the lower body, bend the knees and place one ankle on the opposite knee to create a four shape, and then slowly fold at the hips to give movement to your hip area.

#5: Apply heat afterwards if you continue to experience pain

If all else fails and you continue to experience pain and discomfort, apply heat to the area. Heat pads help to open-up the blood vessels in the area which can trigger the healing process and result in a decrease in pain levels.