Best Ways to Stretch While Traveling
By Guest Author //
Guest Author: Lindsay Sudell, MOT, OTR/L, FRCms, CFSS
Hi there! My name is Lindsay Sudell. I am a Level 3 Medical Fascial Stretch Specialist, Functional Range Conditioning Mobility Expert, Personal Trainer, Certified Kinstretch Instructor, and Licensed Occupational Therapist. I have dedicated my career to helping my patients improve their mobility, reduce their pain, and excel in the activities that they love. In 2016, I founded Simply Stretch LA, an innovative assisted-stretching and manual therapy clinic in the heart of the health and wellness capital of Venice, California. Upon the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic of 2020, I created The Mobility MasterClass—my very own online mobility program to provide assistance for people all over the world that would benefit from my expertise and professional guidance all from the comfort of their own homes.
As summer picks up, many people are planning to hit the road (or plane) in order to get away and enjoy some much-needed time out of the house now that quarantine restrictions are finally beginning to lift. With that being said, the last thing that you should have to worry about is that stubborn back, hip, or knee pain flaring up amidst long travel days . . . and that’s where I come in! Enclosed below are 5 of my favorite travel-friendly mobility drills that you can do from virtually anywhere.
But before I dish out the goods, why is stretching so important anyway? And how can working on mobility help reduce pain?
Did you know that tight or weak hips, glutes, and posterior chain musculature (aka—the muscles that make up the backside of your body) are some of the main contributors to back, hip, and knee pain? As humans, we were made to MOVE. We were not made to sit at a computer screen for 8+ hours per day. As a result of modern-day lifestyles, humans are becoming tighter (and weaker!) than ever before with slouched postures and subsequent pain becoming more prominent in younger and younger populations.
Our body was designed to alternate between mobile and stable joints as you climb the kinetic chain. For example, the bones of the feet are supposed to be very stable. The ankle should be very mobile. The knee should only move into flexion and extension, making it a stable joint. The hip should be very mobile. The low back, very stable. The thoracic spine should be mobile, and so on. When the “mobile” hip becomes tight, it presents more as a “stable” joint. This requires the knee or low back to take on more torque and become more mobile than biomechanically designed—hence the development of chronic low back pain or knee injuries. Addressing mobility restrictions helps to ensure that the human body is able to move as intended while minimizing compensatory movements that can lead to pain, arthritis, and injuries.
So without further ado, here are 5 of my favorite mobility drills that you can do while on the go!
1. Roll Thoracic Spine –
Sit on the ground with your knees bent and feet firmly on the ground. Place the Chirp Wheel+ against your back and while holding onto the wheel, gently lie back. Relax. Stay in this position until you feel ready to move on.
Rest your upper back on top of the wheel with it between your shoulder blades. Still holding onto the wheel for support or resting your hands on the ground for balance, raise your glutes off the floor. Relax. Stay in this position until you feel ready to move on.
Begin to roll back and forth on the wheel by bending and straightening your legs and walking yourself forwards and backwards. It will be a forward-backward motion.
This drill is AMAZING when performed with any of the 3 Chirp Wheels. Each sized wheel provides a slightly different degree of pressure and myofascial release. Try it with all 3 and let me know your favorite! Mine for sure is the small wheel!
2. Chirp Wheel Cat / Cows – Get down on your hands and knees with the Chirp Wheel in front of you. Place your hands on top of the Chirp Wheel. Take a deep breath in and on an exhale, drop your chest toward the ground. Inhale and round through your chest and exhale to drop back down. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
This stretch is even better if you use the large Chirp Wheel instead of a traditional foam roller! Trust me!
3. Chirp Wheel Thread the Needles – Try this with the small Chirp Wheel for some extra TLC! Your body will thank you.
Start on your hands and knees with the 6-inch wheel just outside your right hand. Take a deep breath in to open your left shoulder and reach your left hand up to the sky. Exhale to “thread the needle” by reaching your left arm under your right arm and placing it on top of the wheel. Try to let your left shoulder rest on the ground. Reach back up to the sky and repeat 10 reps on each side.
4. Elevated Pigeon
5. Couch Stretch
The Chirp Wheel is a great tool to take stretches 1–3 mentioned above to the next level! Each wheel is 5” in width, which allows for more targeted myofascial release pressure than a traditional foam roller because it fits between your shoulder blades. Additionally, the convenient 3-Wheel Pack contains a large, medium, and small wheel that allows you to provide gentle, medium, or deep pressure as you wish. And the best part is all 3 wheels fit in a single carrying case, making it the perfect size to fit in your suitcase during your next getaway!
- Licensed Occupational Therapist
- Certified Level 3 Medical Fascial Stretch Specialist
- Graston Technique Specialist
- Functional Range Conditioning Expert (FRCms)
- Kinstretch Instructor
- LifeStretch Practitioner
- Stick Mobility Instructor
- Neurokinetic Therapy Practitioner
- SFMA (Selective Functional Movement Assessment) Certified
- Kinesiotaping Certified
- RockTape Medical Professional
- PAM (Physical Agent Modality) Certified
- ACE-Certified Personal Trainer
- Crossfit Level 1 Trainer
- CPR/AED Certified