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Exercises for the Plane

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

Get the blood circulating and feel healthy while on the go…

Photo Credit: Joe Umali

Exercise 1: Foot Focus

We often don’t think about the feet in terms of exercise. But the following exercises can have positive outcomes for postural alignment and circulation in the legs during long flights.

  • Toe Curl 10X

With this exercise act as if you are scrunching a towel under your feet. Great for the arches of the feet while strengthening the ankles.

  • Toe Raise 10X

Try to just lift all ten toes towards the ceiling.

  • Heel Drops 10X

Lift the heels and drop them down. This action can increase strength in the calves.

Repeat all of the above exercises 2X

Exercise 2: Hips Don’t Lie

Oh the Hips! I don’t know about you but I store all my stress in my hips. Having equal abduction and adduction exercises in your work out is important for healthy hips.

  • Mindful March 10 on each leg

Just like how it sounds pick up your feet and march while seated. Match your breath with your movement.

  • Figure 4 for 1 minute on each side

Cross your foot over your thigh making a 90 degree angle.. Avoid putting pressure on your knee. Highly suggestion dorsi flexion of the foot crossed over to assist in safe knee alignment. This pose works external rotation of the hips.

  • Internal Rotation for 1 minute

Bring your feet to the outside of your hips, and knees towards one another. Squeeze the knees towards each other to engage and turn on the thigh muscles. This helps with internal rotation.

Exercise 3: Healthy Spine

Since I was in high school I have suffered from herniated discs. . During my masters degree program in physical education, I took a kinesiology class that emphasized four key movements towards a healthy spine. 1. Flexion 2. Extension 3. Rotation 4. Side Flexion. The following exercise includes all four and can be done while seated on the plane.

  • Seated Cat/Cow 10X

Cat- Feet hip distance apart pressing into the floor, begin to exhale and tuck chin to chest, making a C- curve like a scared Cat with the spine. Cow: Moove (extra o is intentional) The chin away from the chest. Be careful not to dip the head to far back as this can create compression for the cervical spine. This movement is a counter extension/ back bend movement for the spine that expands the chest. Great for long flights.

  • Prayer Twist 10X

Pressing the feet into the floor, bring the hands to prayer mudra. Press the palms together to engage the upper arms and move with the breathe from side to side. Keeping an elongated spine, engaged core and moving the torso as one unit.

  • Reach for the sky 4 each side

Make a rainbow arch and reach. If your embarrassed to draw attention to yourself this is great time to pretend like you are yawning, or adjusting the AC.

Exercise 4: Shoulders

Shoulder flexibility can go a long way to improve your mobility. .

  • Eagle Wrap Hold for 30 seconds then repeat other side

Take arm out in front, shoulder height. Make a 90 degree angle. Take the other arm and bring it under and reach for the thumb of that 90 degree angled hand. Draw the scapula down, and try to keep space between chin and chest.

  • Shoulder Hug

Modification to the above pose. Give yourself a hug. Draw the shoulders down. Maybe the elbow stack on top of each other.This is a great time to think of three things that you are grateful for about Y.O.U. Drop that chin towards your heart and smile. This increases shoulder flexibility but also boosts confidence. You are AWESOME. Lets celebrate it!!! :)

  • Shoulder Rolls 10X fwd and back

Roll shoulders forward and back synchronizing movement with breath.

Exercise 5: Hands & Wrists

We type, we write, we text…lets strengthen those muscles and avoid carpal tunnel.

  • Wrist Rolls 10X Fwd 10X Rev

Make fists and roll your wrists forward and backwards/reverse.

  • Wrist Stretch 1 minute each hand

Make prayer mudra and then flip it so your right hand fingers are facing down and the back of the hand is pressing again the left palm. Try to keep elbows in a straight line.

  • Finger Flexibility 10 seconds each finger

Make a thumbs up with one hand and lightly (emphasis on lightly) press the thumb back count 1-10 Mississippily and switch to each finger. This increase circulation to each finger.

Exercise 6: Neck

Neck exercises are so important. Texting neck….its a thing and the following exercises can help.

  • Ear to Shoulder 1 min.

Exactly how it sounds take right ear towards right shoulder, and breath. Relax you left shoulder down.

  • Chin towards Shoulder 1 min

Turn your chin towards your right shoulder. This stretches different areas in the neck.

  • Forward Press 30 seconds

Take the palm and bring it to the forehead and press into the hand, building strength.

  • Back Press 30 seconds

Take the back of the head and press into the seat behind you building counter strength to the previous exercise.

Wearing Amari Activewear

Repeat all of the above on the left side

Exercise 7: Modified Savasana:

  • Wifi Apps If you are flying and are able to have wifi, use your phone and headphones to listen to a mindful app. examples: Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer.

  • Pre=Flight: Download a Yoga Nidra mp3/mp4 for your phone or laptop and listen to on the plane during this time.

  • If you would prefer to be free of technology this is great time to practice mindfulness. Close your eyes or find a point of focus in front of you. Bring all your attention to your breath. Can you make your inhale and exhale slow and equal? Can you bring your attention to the present moment? What are you grateful for in this moment? Going from head to toe see if you can relax each muscle with each slow breath in pause, and slow breath, out.

Suggestion of things to have handy on the plane:

Safe Travels...

Photo Credit: Joe Umali

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