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Do These 6 Stretching Exercises Before a Long Flight

Woman doing a side lunge and twist in a gym.
Karla Tafra

Long flights can often take a toll on your body as you sit and try to sleep in a mostly uncomfortable position for hours on end. Stretching before your flight can help improve your blood circulation, stimulate your lymphatic system, and lubricate your joints so you don’t end up too stiff when you land.

You can also try to stretch a little during your flight if there’s no turbulence that requires you to stay with your seatbelt on the entire time and feel the blood rushing through your limbs.

Runner’s Lunge and Twist

Start by squatting low and leaving your right foot in between your palms while stretching your left back. Feel the stretch all the way from your hip through your heel and come high on the ball of your back foot. Open your chest and look forward, elongating your spine and activating your back quadriceps.

Leave your left palm on the floor and lift your right arm straight up, twisting to the right and opening your entire body to the side. Feel the stretch through your arms like you want to touch the ceiling and breathe as deeply as you can. After three long inhales and exhales bring your right palm back down and switch legs.

Stretching Strap

Helps you get into a deeper stretch.

Side Lunge and Twist

Come to a standing wide stance, hinge at the hips, and fold your upper body forward to the floor. Bend your left knee and leave your right palm on the floor as you lift your left arm straight up. Twist to the left and feel your right leg elongated as you bend deeper into your left leg.

With every inhale try to elongate your spine a bit more and with every exhale, try to get deeper into the twist. After your third exhale, bring your left hand down and walk over to the right leg, bending the right knee. Stretch your left leg and twist to the right. Stay for three long breath cycles and then bring your right hand back down.

Come to the center and stay for a moment to reset, grabbing your elbows and relaxing your torso over your legs. Breathe deeply and slowly.

Flight Pillow

Supports your neck while you fly.

Downward Facing Dog and Twist

Bring your hands and feet on the floor and lift your hips up, making an inverted V shape with your body. Bend your knees if you need to and feel your spine elongating by pushing the ground away from you. Extend your legs and feel like your heels want to touch the floor, stretching your hamstrings and calves.

On your next inhale, grab your right calf or ankle with your left hand and look under your right armpit. This is a bit challenging as your balance is off, so activate your core muscles and ensure both legs are strong and engaged. Stay for three long inhales and exhales before repeating it all on the other side.

After you’ve twisted on both sides, come back to the starting position and bend your legs interchangeably like you’re trying to walk without moving your feet. This will reset your hips and send the freshly twisted blood rushing from your spine into your legs.

MZOO Sleep Mask

Block all the lights and sleep like a king.

Malasana Squat and Twist

Start in a squat and widen your stance as much as possible, opening your hips and stretching your lower back. Bring your hands together and open your elbows to further intensify the hip opening and straighten your spine.

From here, place your right palm diagonally forward from your right foot, leaving the elbow connected to your right leg. Open your left side body by lifting your left arm up, and look up. Try to keep your left hip as open as possible. Stay for three long inhales and exhales and repeat on the other side.

After you’ve completed both twists, come back to the starting position and stretch your lower back by dropping your glutes as low as you possibly can. Don’t forget to breathe.

Portable foot rest

Helps reduce swelling.

Standing Side Body Stretch

Start in a standing position and lift your arms up over your head. Clasp your palms together and stretch up, like you’re trying to touch the ceiling. Relax your shoulders and send them away from your ears. Grab your left wrist with your right hand and stretch your left arm, leaning to the left and opening your right side body. You should feel a stretch all the way from your foot over your hip and obliques through your arms and fingertips.

Take deep breaths and go as far as your body allows you. After three long inhales and exhales, return to the center and stretch the left side body. Repeat the whole exercise once or twice for full effect.

Women's Leggings

Comfortable leggings for flying.

Roll Up and Down

And last, but not least, start in a standing position with your feet at a hip-width distance. Inhale, look up and start rolling down on your exhale. Articulate your spine and go as slow as you can, controlling each vertebra as it rolls down. Once you’ve come to your forward fold depth, relax your upper body and let gravity take over. 

Grab your elbows and gently sway your body left and right, loosening up your hips and stretching your low back as well as your hamstrings. Your legs don’t have to be fully straight if it feels too intense so bend them as much as you’d like.

Stay for three long inhales and exhales and then just as slowly, roll back up to standing, stacking each vertebra on top of each other. Repeat once or twice for the full effect.

Gel seat cushion

Helps reduce back pain when flying or sitting down for long periods of time.

Try these stretches next time before you board your plane and don’t forget to stretch when you land! It’s equally important.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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