Sitting for long periods of time, like during a cross-country or international flight, can lead to serious cramping and discomfort. But you also put yourself at risk of deep vein thrombosis, or blood clots in your legs. These six pre-flight stretches can help lower that risk.
In this video from the Travel + Leisure YouTube channel, Lauren Williams, fitness expert at Health Magazine, and Dr Raj, Health Magazine’s medical editor, share a six-stretch routine you should do before every long-haul flight:
- Downdog calf stretch: Get in the downward dog yoga position, then alternate pressing your heels to the ground.
- Inchworm: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then bend over and touch the ground with your hands. Now use your hands walk your upper body forward until you’re in a plank position, then drop your hips and look up. Inch back to the starting position and repeat.
- Figure four stretch: Stand on one foot and cross your other leg over knee so your legs are shaped like the number “4”. Now sit as low as you can go with the one leg, hold it for several seconds, then switch legs and repeat.
- Toes raises: Stand with your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart. Raise up so you’re on the balls of your feet, hold it for a few seconds, then go back down and repeat.
- Hamstring reach & sweep: Stick one foot out in front, straighten your leg and point your toe to the ceiling. Now bend your other leg and reach down toward the floor with your hands. Swap legs and repeat.
- Half kneel hip stretch: Kneel with one knee on the ground like you’re at the lowest point of a lunge. Place the hand opposite of the leg that’s in front of you on the ground as support, and extend the leg behind you until you feel it stretch. Lower it back to the starting position, swap legs and repeat.
These stretches will help keep your legs loose and the blood flowing. They will also help keep you from getting too uncomfortable on your flight. Dr Raj also recommends you stay hydrated, keep your feet flat on the floor when you sit and get up from your seat and walk around a little every one to two hours.