Traveling while you are in pain or still recovering from orthopedic treatment can be a challenge. These five, simple orthopedic exercises can help you care for yourself, and your joint and musculoskeletal health, as you continue your recovery.
Why orthopedic exercise during travels?
If you are traveling by plane this holiday season, chances are you’ll be trapped for a few hours in a restrictive airplane seat. When joints are kept in one position for too long, they can stiffen up.
With a few low-impact exercises, you can reduce stiffness and keep your joints flexible and stable during long travels. Give the following exercises a try the next time you travel. Your hips, knees, spines and shoulders will thank you.
Exercises from the comfort of your seat
1—Unsupported Knee Bends
With your feet lightly resting on the floor, slide your body forward to the edge of your seat. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Now, lift and straighten one knee as much as possible. Repeat until your leg is tired.
2—Hips x 2
Unbuckle your seatbelt and with a back and forth motion, scoot to the edge of your seat without getting up. Scoot back. Repeat 5 times.
Then, keep your back straight and knees at 90-degrees. Put one leg straight out in front of you and rest on your heel. Keeping your heel on the floor, rotate your left leg outward and inward. Repeat 5 times.
With your feet on the ground and back straight and unsupported, drop your chin toward your chest and rotate your head to the right so that your ear is over your right shoulder. Hold 5 seconds. Then, drop your head to your chest and rotate your head to the left. Repeat 3 times.
Now, slowly roll your head back and all the way around in a clockwise direction. Repeat 3 times. Reverse direction and repeat 3 times.
4—Shoulder Shrugs and Rolls
Shrug your left shoulder up to your ear. Hold 5 seconds then drop it. Do the same with your right shoulder. Repeat 5 times per side. Now shrug both shoulders up at the same time. Hold 5 seconds and drop. Repeat 5 times.
Slowly roll your shoulders forward, up and back. Repeat 5 times.
Hold your arm straight out in front of you in the “stop” signal. Take your other hand and gently bend your wrist back until you can feel a stretch. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
Hold your arm straight out in front of you and bend your wrist so your fingers point down. Take your other hand and gently apply pressure to bend your wrist forward until you can feel a stretch to your forearm. Hold 15 seconds and repeat 5 times.
Bonus exercise: Take a walk.
When the fasten seatbelt sign is off, take the opportunity to get up and walk around. It will get your blood flowing and loosen up those stiff knees, hips and ankles.
If you have had recent joint surgery, check with your doctor or physician assistant to ensure that these exercises are safe and effective for you.