by Dr Sarah Duggan (osteopath)

Have you ever thought about what sitting down (in a car, train, or aeroplane) for a prolonged period of time does to your body? Whether you’re planning your next road trip, or booking an overseas or interstate holiday, this is something to think about!

Our bodies aren’t meant to be kept still – this impacts not only our musculoskeletal system but various aspects of our central nervous system. You may have noticed that the last time you were traveling, you experienced some changes. Did your digestion slow? Did you feel lethargic or tired? Was your mental awareness effected?

I know there have been numerous times when I’ve finished a long-haul flight or a road trip where I haven’t felt like myself. I’ve been bloated, super tired, and have felt like I have no energy at all (despite sleeping through most of the journey!). Recently I was lucky enough to travel overseas, and I put the following “tips and tricks” to the test – I was so impressed with the results I had all my friends copying me by the end of our holiday! 

TIP 1: water intake

Adults are recommended to drink 2-3L of water a day, even more so when exercising. A lot of us struggle to drink this much day to day, let alone when travelling (especially on an aeroplane). Becoming dehydrated leads to obvious signs, such as fatigue, headaches, and dizziness, but can also affect your mood and concentration (I’m sure everyone has heard the term Jet Lag!). 

I made a conscious effort to refill my water bottle every 2-3 hours, even if it meant annoying my fellow passengers with plenty of bathroom breaks. I found that this greatly improved my digestion, whilst also limiting the amount of jet lag I experienced. 

TIP 2: regular breaks from sitting

Whether you’re on a flight, in the car, or on a train, prolonged sitting isn’t going to do you any favours, especially if you have pre-existing injuries, muscular tension or stiffness. What I recommend, is aiming to move every 60-90 minutes, whether it be for a quick walk or some circulation exercises. You may even have been prescribed some rehab exercises from your Osteo – this is a perfect time to do these. Below are some exercises, which I commonly prescribe to my patients, which should lead to a more comfortable travel experience. I found that by doing this, my ankles (which notoriously swell on long flights) weren’t as sore or puffy.

  • Ankle alphabet 
    • Imagine using your big toe to write the alphabet 
    • Move the ankle to trace the alphabet with the toe 
    • Repeat on the other side, complete every 2-3 hours 

  • Ankle plantarflexion 
    • Start with feet flat on the floor 
    • Raise up onto your toes, keeping weight through the big toes 
    • Slowly lower back to the floor
    • Repeat 10 times, have a 30 second break, then repeat.
    • Complete every 2 hours 

  • Ankle dorsiflexion 
    • Start with feet flat on the floor
    • Pull your your toes up so they point towards the sky
    • Slowly lower them back to the floor 
    • Repeat 10 times, have a 30 second break, then repeat.
    • Complete every 2 hours 

  • Double leg calf raises 
    • Keep knees straight, and raise yourself up onto your toes
    • Pause at the top, then slowly lower
    • Repeat 15 times, have a 30 second break, then repeat
    • Complete 2-3 times throughout the journey (I like to do these when waiting in line for the toilet on an aeroplane)
  • Thoracic rotations 
    • With hands on opposite shoulders, inhale and rotate your torso as far as possible
    • Pause, and exhale to return to centre 
    • Keep head in line with your spine, do not over-rotate your neck 
    • Repeat 10 times, complete every 1-2 hours

All of these exercises are for the general population, if you have any prior injuries or soreness, be sure to ask your osteopath to alter these specifically to you (i.e. if you have a recent ankle sprain, doing calf raises may not be suitable for you right away due to potential re-injury or aggravation). 

Try these out on your next trip, and let us know how they go!

Are you about to go on holiday, and want to make sure your aches and pains are sorted before you leave? Book an appointment with our Osteopath, Dr Sarah Duggan. Sarah can address your symptoms with hands-on treatment a tailored rehabilitation program for you.

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This blog post is an educational tool only.  It is not a replacement for medical advice from a registered and qualified doctor or health professional.

Any other questions not answered here? Get in touch with us!

Phone: (03) 9773 8085

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    REFERENCES:

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