You might not believe it, but the solution to stiff joints, sleepless nights and that general “funk” you feel during business travel could be found in simple stretching exercises.
It’s true – just a few minutes of relatively easy physical activity can put you in a better mood, enhance flexibility and reverse the effects of prolonged sitting, waiting and standing around in cars, on planes and at airport terminals.
Stretching offers similar benefits to more complex movements like yoga. If you want to incorporate a yoga stretching regimen into your travel schedule, that’s perfectly fine – just realize that you can skip the yoga mat and enjoy extra time with simple, effective movements.
The Hidden Perils of Travel
Nobody loves business travel (at least anybody who has traveled for many years), but everybody loves leisure travel. What does the body think about the two? Actually, your muscles, joints and tendons could care less whether you’re headed to a business meeting in Bangkok or en route to a beach vacation in Bali.
Yet traveling for work appears to put more stress and strain on the body, probably because the destination is for more work instead of a well-deserved break. The mental aspect of business travel contributes to your body’s ability to deal with prolonged sitting, jet lag, unfamiliar surroundings and other disruptions in your normal schedule.
Business air travel is fraught with health hazards, even aside from the fact you’re in a metal vehicle 25,000 feet in the air. Dehydration, ear pain and imbalance, jet lag, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), swollen joints and oxygen deprivation are the most obvious offenders. Traveling by car doesn’t have the same impact (thankfully), yet just being cooped up in a car for more than a few hours can sap energy levels and cause negative mood swings. The road isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!
Before starting a travel stretching routine, assess yourself: Are there any nagging pains that won’t go away? Does business travel leave you in worse shape than before you left? Do you dread those cross-country seminars? You may need medical attention. Urgent Care Extra’s doctors and trained medical staff can assist you with non-life-threatening injuries, including back and shoulder issues that arise from extended business travel and other work-related situations.
Five Simple Stretches for Business Travel
Here’s a plan to keep you strong and limber on the road that can be implemented for both business and leisure travel. If you follow a dedicated fitness regimen and can’t find a resort or hotel with a fitness suite, no worries – these stretches will help you maintain your strength and flexibility until you arrive home to get back in the groove.
Leg stretch – While seated, keep your back straight and slowly reach down to touch your toes. This helps loosen up your lower back after endless hours on the road. If you’re fortunate enough to travel first class, you can probably do this stretch while traveling.
Stretch to the stars – This one is exactly what it sounds like. With your arms extended above your head, lock your hands together and push up, up and away. This stretch does wonders for those post-meeting blues.
The Grok Squat – Popular among primal health adherents, this movement has some serious evolutionary pedigree. Many chimpanzees and gorillas stretch this way, and they don’t have to deal with a 3-hour delay! With your feet shoulder-width apart, slowly squat down and place your elbows inside your thighs. Hold the pose as long as you can, then slowly rise up to a standing position.
Rubber ball squeeze – In the frenzy to ensure we’re properly stretched out, the hands and forearms are sometimes neglected. Also called the “stress ball exercise,” this one is about as simple as it gets: take a rubber ball (a tennis ball also works well) and squeeze it for a pre-determined number of reps and intervals – for example, 3 sets of 15 squeezes. This stretch is insanely effective for those road warriors who are always behind the keyboard.
Hip stretch – A chair is all you need – well, a fair amount of flexibility helps, too. While seated, place your right ankle on your left knee. Slowly bend forward until you notice slight (not uncomfortable) tension in your hips. Reverse the process for a complete, effective hip stretch before or after meetings!
Offset the Effects of Business Travel with an Occupational Health Program
If you’re a road warrior, effectively managing your travel time from a health standpoint is extremely important. Most of the time on the road, you’re most likely eating a poor diet, or at least food you’re not accustomed to. And your diet isn’t the only lifestyle component shuffled around – any exercise habits are also compromised during extended business travel. Compounding the problem with inflexibility and reduced strength from work commitments just makes matters worse. If your company has an Occupational Health Program or Wellness Program, check to see if there are aids in place for frequent business travelers.
If your employer doesn’t have an occupational wellness initiative and you’re interested in helping implement one, contact Urgent Care Extra today. We specialize in workplace injury prevention and can also offer a safe, sensible plan of action for returning to work after an injury. Our Occupational Health Program can help your company save time and money – give us a call!
Urgent Care Extra’s immediate care and long-term plans can benefit you and your family members, co-workers and more. Our walk-in healthcare network boasts more than 40 medical clinics in Arizona and Nevada, with more on the way soon! You never need an appointment, but you’ll always get superior medical care, regardless of your insurance coverage – we’ll even work with you to establish an affordable payment plan if you don’t have health insurance. For more information about the southwest region’s fastest-growing, community-based immediate care network, call our main phone number at (480) 988-9108. Thanks for reading the UCE blog. And best of luck the next time you’re traveling – keep these tips and tricks in mind to make it a better experience!