Exercises for Avoiding Pain While Traveling This Thanksgiving Season

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and with this being one of the most traveled weeks of the year, it can be very stressful, both mentally and physically.

In 2018, the AAA estimated that more than 54 million people traveled for Thanksgiving, the most since 2005!

Whether you’re traveling by car, plane, train, bus, or even cruise ship, traveling can lead to a great deal of aches and pains throughout your body.

Just to name a few, headaches, tight muscles, back pain, lack of blood flow which leads to swelling in feet and ankles, tight hips and weak legs and glutes are all prime examples of the stress our bodies undergo when being seated and traveling for long periods of time.

Here are exercises to help keep you feeling loose and pain free while traveling!

Ankles & Feet

Swollen feet after sitting for a long time is quite common. One of the best things to do when traveling is to simply get some movement through your feet and ankles.

1) Ankle ABC’s Image result for ankle abc's

  • From a seated position, simply place your foot out in front of you
  • Begin to trace the alphabet with your foot, slowly moving your ankle through each letter
  • Make sure just to encourage movement through your foot and ankle, not through the rest of your leg
  • Perform 1-3 rounds on each side, or as needed

Cervical & Thoracic Spine

Let’s be honest, most of us are spending most of our time on a phone while traveling, leading to a rounded position which can cause discomfort in your neck and shoulders. The exercises below will help put you in the exact opposite position, which will help alleviate some of your pain.

2) Chin Tucks Image result for chin tucks

  • Sit upright and look straight ahead with the ears directly over the shoulders.
  • Place a finger on the chin.
  • Without moving the finger, pull the chin and head straight back until a good stretch is felt at the base of the head and top of the neck.
  • Hold for 3 seconds, repeat 10 time


3) Scapular Retraction Image result for scapular retraction

  • Sit up in a tall position with your arms at 90 degrees by your side
  • Squeeze both of your shoulder blades together and hold for five seconds
  • Do not shrug up towards your ears as you do this

Hips & Lower Back

No matter what form of travel you choose this Thanksgiving, sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause tight hip flexors and cause strain on the lower back. Try these simple exercise to help reduce some tightness.

4) Seated Knee to Chest Image result for seated knee to chest

  • Sit up in your chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Bring one leg off of the ground, bringing hug your knee into your chest.
  • Lean back slightly to deepen the stretch and hold for 30 seconds.

5) Seated Figure-4 Image result for seated figure 4 stretch

  • Sit at the edge of your chair.
  • Cross your right ankle over your left thigh and flex the foot.
  • Inhale to lengthen your spine, then exhale to fold your torso over your right leg.
  • Reach your hands around your right ankle and let your head and shoulders relax.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, switch sides.

Whether you’re traveling for Thanksgiving or simply want to get some light stretching and movement in before you have some guest arrive, give these exercises a try and see how they feel.

And as always, feel free to reach out with any questions you may have for our experts at Repke Fitness!