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10 top stretches after a long journey or on your hols...

Updated: Jun 14, 2022

We all relish a long relaxing holiday and some much needed rest. Unfortunately travelling to the airport, waiting in departures and then a cramped flight are a perfect recipe for feeling stiff, achey and wound up just when we most want to unwind. Here are some tips to release that tightness ready to start your holiday refreshed.
Always remember to start by doing some warm up exercises, for example some gentle shoulder rolls, hip circles, small knee bends, easy marching and little lunges to ensure you warm the large muscle groups.

1. Partial or Full Roll Down

Partial Roll Down

Standing with your feet facing forward in line with hips & shoulders and your spine stacked, slowly tuck your chin under and gradually peel your vertebrae (spine) forward, starting at the neck bones, working down to the upper back, mid back, lower back and so forth. Allowing the shoulders to naturally drop forward, softening the knees if you have tight hamstrings. Do the reverse as you roll back up taking care to re-stack the spine one vertebrae at a time. A couple of roll downs will help to loosen up the spine & warm up all the muscles.

2. Cat Cow

Cat Cow Pilates

Move onto all fours on your mat & ensure your knees, hips, shoulders & wrists are totally aligned to ensure balanced weight distribution over the joints. Start in Cow Position: Inhale as you drop your tummy button towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, elongate the neck line, widen your shoulder blades and draw your shoulders away from your ears. Continue the flow into Cat Position: As you exhale, draw your umbilicus into your spine and round your back toward the ceiling, drawing the shoulders up to the ceiling, creating a beautiful arching Cat shape. You can flow between both positions between 5-16 times.

3. Thread the needle

Thread the needle

Return to All Fours position, take one hand and tuck under the armpit of the other, drawing the shoulder blade down towards the mat, sinking the bottom down to the feet allowing a lovely transverse rotation of the lumbar & thoracic spine also including an awesome shoulder release. Hold for a count of 15 and repeat on the other side.

4. Superman

Superman Pilates

Returning to All Fours position having rechecked your correct alignment, inhale, then exhale as you extend one arm out in front, at the same time extend the opposite leg out & away. Aim to keep both limbs in line with the ground & avoid arching your lower back. It helps to focus on buttock & abdominal activation to ensure you lower back remains strong & stable.

Repeat on the other side. Build from 6-16 reps depending on your skill & balance.

If you find this is way too tricky or unstable, start with opposite toe & finger taps out to the front instead, building to full superman as you get stronger & less wobbly.

5. Child's Pose

From All fours, sink your bottom down towards your heels, extend your palms forwards towards the front of the mat, lengthening through the whole length of the spine. Relax there for 30 seconds. If you have enough flexibility in your hips you can repeat with the knees slightly wider apart.

Listen to your body! Only do what feels comfortable. Be careful with your knees & hips.

6. Swan Prep or Seal Stretch