plane stretches

Flying soon? Here’s some plane stretches to stay supple

Sore necks and backs aren’t the only thing that can result from a long-haul flight.

Other potential issues include dehydration, joint swelling and the ever-present possibility of catching a cold.

So, next time you’re flying home or off on a big trip, make sure you integrate some stretching exercises, or seated Pilates moves, into your time spent up in the air.

Stretching regularly during your flight will not only help reduce in-flight stress, but also the risk of more serious problems developing.

Michelle Scott, a STOTT Pilates instructor/trainer at Real Pilates Dubai, says: “Sitting idle in cramped spaces can increase a number of health risks such as reduced circulation of arterial influx of fresh blood and venous outflow, bloating, blood clotting in the lower legs and back injuries.”

She notes that frequent movements and keeping active during long and short flights is the best way to reduce muscle stiffness and backaches, and even help reduce the effects of jet lag.

Below are five of Scott’s top seated exercises to do while travelling on a plane. 

1) Leg lifts

Real Pilates Dubai

From a neutral seated position, raise one knee toward your chest. This allows the lower back to stretch slightly. Then place it back down. Repeat with your other knee. Maintaining a constant circulation of blood through the joints minimizes the risk of deep-vein thrombosis and balances abdominal engagement to support the spine.

2) Elevated elbow stretch

Raise both hands above the head, grasp the opposite elbow and pull it toward one side until you feel the stretch. Hold the pull for around 15 seconds and repeat with the other elbow.

3) Calf raises

seated calf raises

While seated upright, apply pressure to the balls of the feet and slightly raise both the heels off the floor. Slowly release the pressure while lowering the heels. This will help mobilize the ankle joint. Repeat 15 times to increase circulation and reduce swelling in the feet.

4) Abdominal contractions

Siting up straight with the spine along the length of the chair, take a deep breath and contract the muscles by holding them for five seconds. Repeat about 10 times every couple of hours during long flights, to keep the abdominal muscles active and improve digestion.  

5) Modified spine twist

Real Pilates Dubai

Cross your arms over your chest. Take a gentle twist to one side, then return to the centre. Keep your chin up and your spine neutral. This activates the spine into rotation, and eases tension in the back and shoulder girdle. is for every body and mind in the UAE. This magazine is all about moderation, making small changes, little additions and the odd subtraction.



Receive our newsletters right in your inbox.