Stretch your way to safer, more comfortable travel

As summer unfolds many of us will hop into a car or board an airplane to head for enjoyable destinations. Although reasons for vacation travel are pleasant, the trip can mean sitting in a cramped position for long periods. You arrive ready to relax, only to find that you are stiff, sore, and fatigued.

The physical stresses of traveling can lead to pain and muscle spasms. Although less common, the result is occasionally severe: blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Development of clots sometimes leads to hospitalization and can even be fatal.

Fortunately, simple stretches help offset inactivity:

• When the pilot permits it, walk around – every 30 to 45 minutes on longer flights.

• Sitting, lift your feet and make circular motions with each ankle, clockwise and counterclockwise. For fun, point your toes to form letters and words!

• If waiting for the lavatory, bend and touch the walkway with your fingers close to your toes.

• An in-lavatory exercise – place both hands on the wall, and put one foot in front of the other as far apart as space allows. Lunge.

• In the aisle, stand on one leg, bend the opposite knee until your heel is close to your buttock. Maintain for 15 seconds. Switch legs.

• In your seat, keep your head against the headrest. Clasp your hands together beside your head. Tilt your head sideways moving your ear to your other shoulder. Hold. Repeat, starting on the other side.

• With your right hand touch the back left part of your shoulder. Then place your left hand on your right elbow and pull. Switch sides after 15 seconds.

Stretching during flights and long vehicle rides helps to increase energy, flexibility, and range of motion. If you experience stiffness and pain for more than a day or two after a trip, then chiropractic techniques can likely help restore your cramped muscles to full pain-free function. For deep leg or calf pain, consult your medical doctor immediately.

Dr. Chad Laurence is a distinguished fellow of Chiropractic Biophysics, who focuses on spinal correction. His practice, Corrective Chiropractic, includes massage therapy, and is located within minutes of Wilmington, Newark, Kennett Square, Chadds Ford, Landenberg and surrounding communities at 7503-A Lancaster Pike, Hockessin, Delaware. Contact: 302.234.1115,, or

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