The winter traveling season is upon us, which can mean overbooked flights, sharing cramped spaces with a lot of different people, increased exposure to wintertime colds and viruses, sleeping in various beds and eating high caloric rich foods. With all of these variables stacked against you, it can be quite a challenge to keep you and your family healthy and pain free while traveling this winter season. To help keep your muscles and immune system in tip-top shape this winter season, it is important to incorporate stretching and massage techniques before, during and after your travels.
A recent study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine examined the effects of Swedish massage therapy on the body's hormonal response and immune function. Researchers found that participants who received Swedish massage had a significant decrease in the hormone arginine-vasopressin (which plays a role in regulating blood pressure and water retention) and concluded that Swedish massage produces measurable biological effects and may have a positive effect on the immune system. Rapaport MH, Schettler P, Bresee C. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2010;16(10):1–10.
Prepare Your Body Pre-Trip with a Regular Exercise Routine and Massage Therapy Sessions
Maintaining your normal activity level during vacation and especially during the holidays can create quite a challenge, so it’s important to maintain your exercise level before leaving on your trip to keep your muscles engaged and loose. Stick with your routine exercise and stretching regimen up until a day or two before you leave for your trip. Also, book a relaxation massage like Swedish massage to lengthen muscles, as well as prepare your body and mind for a relaxing and healthy trip. Massage is not only important to loosening your muscles, but it is equally important to boost your immune system, as massage stimulates the lymph system (the body’s natural defense) against toxic invaders.
Incorporate Massage and Stretching Techniques While Enjoying Your Holiday Travels
- Hitting the Highway for Family Vacation Fun: If you are traveling by car this holiday season, you will inevitably make pit stops along the way, especially if you are traveling with children. Instead of sitting in your car during bathroom and gas stops, get out of the car to stretch your legs, back and neck. Simple stretches such as toe touches, neck rotations and lunges can do the trick or you can even run/walk laps around the rest stop to incorporate some cardio as you loosen your body.
- Jet Setting Across the Country: If your holiday traveling plans find you boarding a plane, there are a few simple tips for keeping your body flexible and active at the airport and during your flight. Prior to boarding your flight, walk up and down the concourse to stay relaxed rather than sitting in front of the gate until the plane boards. While at the gate, grab your nearest wall to lean against for stretching your legs, calves and back. The National Academy of Sports Medicine suggests that you slowly move into a stretch with light force and hold for 30 seconds to lengthen muscles. They suggest these common stretches for increased flexibility: hip flexor stretch, wall chest, kneeling lat stretch and inner thigh stretches.
- While in-flight, use a neck pillow to stabilize your neck muscles, especially if you plan on catching a nap while in the air. When the pilot turns off the seat belt sign, take a stroll to the back bathroom area and stretch your hamstrings, shoulder and back muscles. Just make sure to stay out of the way of the flight attendants and their beverage carts!
- Maintaining Proper Nutrition and Hydration During Your Travels: Whether you drive or fly this holiday season, it is important to drink plenty of water and eat healthy during your trip. The recommended daily water consumption is typically 64 ounces per day so bring a water bottle with you to keep track of how much water you consume. It also is helpful to your body’s digestive and immune systems to pack healthy homemade snacks in the car, rather than eating high caloric and sodium rich foods that are typically found in gas stations and fast food establishments in airports and along the highways.
- Enjoying Hotel Amenities: If your travels find you staying in a hotel, your body may be in luck if you choose to enjoy the hotel amenities. Water can be your friend when experiencing tight muscles, especially if your room has a massage shower head for loosening tight neck and back muscles. Don’t be afraid to hop into the pool and swim a few laps to work out muscle kinks throughout your body and hot tubs are key for providing relief to specific areas of pain. The hotel fitness center also can be a great place to visit to stay active during your trip. Most will at least have stretching posters you can follow for a total body workout.
Revive and Rejuvenate your Tired Body with Post-Trip Massage Therapy
Traveling can take quite a toll on your mind and body, especially when it’s coupled with holiday season family gatherings, an abundant amount of holiday dinners and treats, and the inevitable stress associated with extended family dynamics. All of these factors can leave you feeling physically exhausted and mentally spent upon returning from your holiday family vacation. Before leaving on your trip, you can combat the negative effects of traveling on your body by scheduling a therapeutic massage session for the week after your return so you can quickly restore your mind and body in preparation for resuming your normal everyday life.
Call Elements Therapeutic Massage today to begin preparing your muscles and immune system for a healthy and successful winter traveling season. Find a studio near you today!