Do your legs and shoulders feel stiff after a flight? Regardless of whether your trip involves a two-hour plane ride or a 12-hour transatlantic journey, these exercises below will help you to shake off stiff muscles and correct that slump in your posture. The best part? You don't even need to hit up the hotel gym for your workout. Try these moves in the privacy of your own room.
1. Walkout and rotation
What it's good for: This helps to loosen the muscles at the back of your legs — an area that can feel very tight after a prolonged period of sitting. It also activates your core, opens up your chest, and improves mobility. It's especially good for those slouchers out there.
How to do it: Stand up straight with feet hip-width apart. With legs straight, place your hands on the floor in front of your feet, shift your weight forward and walk your hands forward until your hands are beneath your head. Make sure you brace your core, squeeze your glutes, and keep a flat back. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. Lift one hand, then open and rotate your chest to one side. Your arm should now be pointing at the ceiling while both feet remain on the ground. Hold this pose for 2 seconds and do the same with the other side. Place your hands back in the center below your head and walk your hands backward into your starting position. Repeat five times.
2. Spiderman overhead reach
What it's good for: This is a great exercise to prepare your body for any type of activity. It'll also help to loosen any tightness you feel in your hips while opening up your upper back with an overhead reach. A great move for those who carry heavy bags on their shoulders.
How to do it: Balance yourself on your left leg while stepping the right leg forward into a lunge position. Lower your body until your back knee is touching the floor. Bend forward and touch the floor with both hands, feeling the stretch around the left hip. Keep your right hand near your right foot, rotate and reach overhead with your left arm until both arms form a straight line. Hold this position for two seconds. Return your left arm to the ground and stand up straight. Repeat with the other leg. Do this exercise five times on each side.
3. Squat overhead reach
What it's good for: This exercise increases mobility in the hip, shoulders and upper back areas. You will need a towel to help you with the overhead reach.
How to do it: Stand upright with feet pointed forward and arms extended straight overhead while holding onto each end of the towel. Lower into a squat as you keep your weight evenly distributed across your feet and keep reaching your arms overhead. Ideally, the line of your arms should align with your spine. Make sure you keep your heels down. Pause briefly on the bottom to stabilise yourself. Gradually rise back up as you lower your arms. Repeat this for 10 reps.
4. Glute bridge with diagonal overhead reach
What it's good for: This exercise is great for people who work at a desk and are seated down for most of the day. The more you sit, the weaker your glutes can get. Strengthening the glute bridge is key in the prevention of lower back pain and improves mobility.
How to do it: Lie face-up on the floor with arms to the side, knees bent, and heels on the ground (hip-width apart). Squeeze your glutes as you lift your hips off the ground until knees, hips, and shoulders are in one straight line. As you bridge up, reach one arm up and across your body to try and touch the ground on the opposite side just above your shoulder. Stretch your back and feel your spine twisting. Hold for a second or two before lowering down out of the bridge. Repeat this five times each side.
5. Wall slide
What it's good for: Many people slouch and develop very tense shoulders after working on a computer for too long. This exercise can mobilise your shoulders, upper back, and open up your chest. All you need is a wall.
How to do it: Stand tall with your back while leaning flat into a wall. Press your arms into the wall and maintain contact with the wall as you slide your arms vertically overhead while keeping a slight bend in your elbow. Pause. Slide your arms back down, making sure the back of your hands are constantly touching the wall. If your shoulders are too tight to touch the wall, begin the movement with your arms bent slightly forward. Repeat the movement 10 times.
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