As many of you know, I travel a lot for work. In the past 10 days I have been to the East Coast, taken two California flights, and had two round trip drives to LA. So much sitting! I had been fortunate that after graduate school I sat very little for work. I was up walking around in a clinic all day, and when I opened my own practice I was even more active in the beginning. Then last year that all changed. I remember my first week of work travel, and thinking: “How do people do this everyday at a desk job? I can barely handle sitting for one day!” After that first week, my back, hips, calves, IT bands, and shoulders all felt restricted in mobility. I knew that if I was going to continue to travel, I was going to have to make a change in my routine.
So how do I keep my body mobile during work travel?:
For short trips (1-2 days)
1) Before taking off on a work trip of this duration, I make sure to walk or run before heading out on my trip. This can make for an early morning, but it’s worth it to me since sleeping is a static posture and it’s important to get my body moving. Plus, it’s a short trip so I can plan to get to bed early the night before and sleep in the day I get back so I can handle the early morning wake up.
2) I do not sit in the airport if there are flight delays or if I’m early. I walk the airport, or I stretch in the terminal (will be demonstrated on a Redefine at Home episode).
3) I plan on arriving to my destination early so I can walk for at least 30 minutes before starting work to find movement after sitting in the car/ plane.
4) Before going to sleep, I do a 20 minute mobility routine (many of these stretches will be featured on Redefine at Home) to target key muscle groups that are affected from sitting.
5) Tips for success: packing snacks/ food will give you more time at the airport and at your destination to spend more time moving and less time searching for food. I always travel with my Manduka travel yoga mat so if there are delays, I have a place to stretch while I wait. You also don’t have to let bad weather get in the way of your mobility plans. Most hotels have gyms and if you are day tripping and it’s raining outside, you can walk the airport before heading out to your destination.
For longer trips (3+ days)
1) I sandwich my travel days for a long trip by taking yoga in San Diego the day of/day before I leave, and the day of/ day after I return (depending on my times)
2) I look at my schedule prior to departure and pre schedule yoga classes at my destinations. I do all of my research prior to arrival so I know which class times I can realistically make. On days a studio class doesn’t work in my schedule, I do an online class for at least 45 minutes. Right now I use YogaGlo, but I look forward to using Redefine at Home starting in March.
3) I walk the terminals or stretch on flight layovers. Save the sitting for the plane. And no, I don’t feel awkward about breaking out my yoga mat in the middle of the waiting area. Sometimes I even put on an online class!
4) I walk or run between meetings.
5) I set up my Manduka travel mat in my hotel room so if I’m on calls or working, I can multitask and stretch at the same time.
6) If it’s a particularly long trip, I schedule body work while I’m on the trip. I also try to plan my body work in San Diego strategically between longer trips.
7) Trips for success: treating flexibility as important as eating and sleeping helps me prioritize this into my schedule so I don’t lose my routine on these longer trips. Did you know that many airports also have yoga rooms? Check it out! Also, pack lacrosse balls so if you have dead time, you can use them for tissue release while you wait. I use Classpass for practicing in physical studios when I travel. You can set your account to have multiple locations where you can take classes.
I realize that this may seem like a lot of work and effort. But think about all the work and effort it takes to rehabilitate an injury. I would rather play the preventative game vs invest the time later when it’s too late. You only get one body, and I’m committed to taking the best care of mine that I can so I can stay active my whole life.
I also am someone that tends to be naturally more strong vs flexible. I tend to tighten up very quickly, so I find that I need all of the above to not regress in my mobility training. You may find that you only need 50% of what I need. Let your body be your guide, try out a few tips and see how you feel on your next trip.
Do you have any other tips/ strategies for how you stay mobile during travel? Let us know!