Writer: ERICA SLOAN | Outlet: Well and Good
Original Post: https://www.wellandgood.com/stretches-after-travel/
Any tweak to your usual nighttime routine can make dozing off a challenge—and travel tends to bring about a whole host of changes: The room you’re sleeping in, the bed you’re sleeping on, and even your time zone could all reflect a broad departure from your norm. Not to mention, your body itself may be harboring all sorts of travel-related tension (thanks to hours spent stationary in a car, plane, or train), which could make finding a satisfying sleep position that much trickier. To both relieve this physical stress and find a sense of calm before bed, consider practicing a few stretches after travel.
“Stretching naturally helps with relaxation, as it aids in the production of endorphins that can cause a reduction in pain and elevated mood,” says Jeff Brannigan, program director at Stretch*d, a stretching-focused recovery studio based in New York City. To that end, stretching at the end of any mentally or physically strenuous day—say, one spent hauling luggage through an airport or smushed into the backseat of a car—is a simple way to downshift before bed.
Regarding the best stretches for after travel, specifically, Brannigan suggests starting with the neck and shoulders, as these are regions where people commonly hold tension when they’re anxious or uncertain—perhaps while navigating new territory or managing inevitable travel mishaps. And in general, a cramped neck paired with an unfamiliar pillow is likely to send you down the rabbit hole that is tossing and turning, making stretching a great idea for securing quality shut-eye.
Travel also typically entails sitting still for an extended period of time, which alone can put extra strain on the lower body. “Remaining in a seated position for long hours can cause the muscles in the upper legs, hips, and lower back to become tense and stale,” says Brannigan. “Actively stretching those regions can unwind that tension by lengthening the muscles, and will also reduce inflammation by pumping blood throughout the area.”
Here are 6 stretches for after travel that’ll help you unwind and doze off easily:
"Yes" (neck extensors)
"Trap Tapper" (trapezius)
"Stretched Squad" (quadriceps)
"Gloating Glutes" (gluteus maximus)
"Twist and Dipper" (quadratus lumborum)