Traveling around the holidays frequently leads us astray from regular schedules and routines. As someone who immensely enjoys holiday traditions and spending time with family, I often (but happily) find myself at the mercy of my environment while away from home; deep in the snowy Saskatchewan countryside roughly one hour away from a gym. Being creative in order to stay mobile and healthy during this season of life is imperative to training after the holiday season is over.
Here are my tips to staying loosey goosey during your travels away from home.
Escape the Packed Vehicle: While traveling to and from your destination, escape the confines of the jam packed vehicle and walk around. Still, if you are not “the one” that has to use the restroom, get yourself out of the vehicle and move. This helps get the blood moving in your legs and prevents muscle cramps and stiffness. Do simple, quick movements like high knees, butt kicks, toy soldiers, side bends, lift yourself onto your toes, and twist the torso from left to right. This takes no time at all!
Gas Station Stretchies: while stopping for gas, performing simple stretches such as touching your toes and reaching above your head will counteract the compressive forces on the spine from sitting. Lean down and touch your toes to stretch your hamstrings. Place your arms over your head, and reach to the sky. Simultaneously, squeeze your glutes forward to stretch your hip flexors and reposition the hip joint. Even something as simple as using the tire on your vehicle to stretch can be useful. Place your foot against the tire to stretch your calf. Place your foot on top of the tire, with the knee in a flexed position, lean forward to stretch the hips.
Change Positions During Travel: If you are forced to be sitting in a seat during travel for long periods of time, change your position often:
lean your seat back.
use a travel pillow behind your low back
place pillow behind upper back
Cross an ankle over the opposite knee. Change legs.
Squeeze butt cheeks together
Squeeze one butt cheek at a time through the duration of your travels
Here is a good video from Mobility Wod, showing a few of the above mentioned:
Be Creative: Mobility tools are often left behind during busy holiday travel. Usually due to inadequate suitcase space. Use what you have access to. Basic stretches using a door frame or wall are a good alternative in the meantime. I often suggest, throughout the year, that patients take a lacrosse ball or tennis ball with them during their travels. It is carry on worthy, small, discrete and you can use it while on the plane or in the car! Place the ball between your shoulder blades, on one side of your low back, or sit on it to work out some of those gnarly trigger points.
Attend a CrossFit gym: staying active during the holiday season is not only great for the waistline, but also for the muscles and joints. Keeping your routine, through a time where routine is challenged, can be healthy to avoid injury when we return to our everyday schedules. CrossFitters by nature are very active beings and even for the common desk jockey the transition from sitting to standing has become more prevalent. While the holidays bring unusual amounts of time spent sitting and relaxing, seek out activities to counteract these sometimes unavoidable activities. Ask your family and friends to go with you!
Get Your Active Recovery On: Even if you don’t have access to a gym, do something that challenges your body! Go for a walk or a jog! If you are lucky to have snow during the holidays, volunteer to shovel snow off the driveway, go sledding with your kiddos, build a snow fort. Not only does this burn calories, but challenges our active recovery and gives us new active skills. Plus, who doesn’t want to impress their relatives by shovelling the driveway for time!
Squatty Potty: If you have access to this simple little tool, use it! If you don’t have one, use a step stool. Not only does this help keep the ol’ colon healthy but it helps stretch the hips, legs and low back to keep you limber.
Offer Granny Your Seat: while visiting with family around the fireplace, offer granny your seat and plop yourself into a squat. If this is too much of a challenge, a lunge position will do. Use this as an occasion to work on hip flexibility. Simple but useful.
In general, look for occasions to mobilize and be active! Wherever you are this holiday season, think to yourself, is this choice bringing me closer to my goals or further away?
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Dr. Heather Bourdon-Russell D.C., B.S.
Owner of UnBroken Chiropractic