Fall Marathon Season is Ready for Take Off
Two Main Ways to Stay Loose When Traveling for Your Race
By Tim Waanders, PT, DPT
Fall is here, which means marathon races are fast approaching! If you’re from the NYC area, that means many of you will be traveling to Berlin, London, Chicago, and other cities around the globe in the coming weeks. We all know how difficult prolonged traveling can be on our bodies – sore back, tight hips, swollen feet, and the like. But, it doesn’t have to be this way! There are two simple, easy ways to prevent the onset of tightness when traveling – proper hydration and movement. Many of these ideas are taken from the book Quench by Dana Cohen & Gina Bria, which we have written blog posts about in the past. If this topic interests you, I highly recommend checking it out!
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
We all know that hydration, especially before and after exercise, can help prevent cramping and general onset of muscle tightness. But hydration is also especially important when traveling on an airplane, since airplanes are some of the worst dehydrating environments to be in. Recirculated air along with decreased humidity pull moisture out of our cells, thus leading to cell dehydration that can manifest as tissue tightness. Unfortunately, flying with your water bottle can be a hassle with airport security but buying a big bottle at the airport convenience store is the next best step. If possible, adding in a pinch of sea salt or a squeeze of lemon juice is ideal because it helps drive water into our dehydrated cells better via the addition of electrolytes.
Eating your water is also a great option! Some of the best sources of water are typical fruits and vegetables that can be found in most airport markets – berries, apples, melons, leafy greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, and more are all great sources of H2O. Even sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds can be beneficial!
2. Stay mobile as best you can
The other major reason for muscle tightness when traveling is the severe lack of movement and poor posture that occurs for long periods of time. Airplane seats tend to force us to slouch more than usual and can be uncomfortable for our low backs. Bringing a small travel pillow or even just stuffing a sweatshirt behind the curve of your lumbar spine can place our bodies in a better position when seated and allow for proper alignment that can reduce excessive tension.
The more important factor, though, is to get up and move as often as you can. For the future I would definitely suggest choosing an aisle seat when traveling so you can easily stand up without annoying your neighbors, but if you’re in the middle or window seat don’t be afraid to move whenever you feel like you need to. Drinking plenty of water will inevitably lead to more bathroom breaks, coming full circle in your tightness prevention plan! A good rule of thumb is to get up for a few minutes an hour and move around, even if it’s just in place. Bend over, squat down, reach overhead – do whatever you need to in order to get some mobility in your joints. Lastly, even when in your seat for a while, performing micro movements such as chin-to-chest, ear-to-shoulder, shoulder blade circles, pelvic tilts and spinal twists can help stave off the onset of tightness that prolonged positions can tend to cause.
On your next flight, whether heading to your fall marathon races or going on vacation, try these tips out and see how much of a difference it can make!