Last fall, I spent over 60 hours in the air, and it took about a month to feel fully recovered physically. I did not fall apart or anything, it’s just old aches and pains reared their furry heads. On top of it, I was in a minor car accident, where the guy hit my car from the left (left neck tightness for months, anyone?). All of this in the midst of 60 hours of air time and teaching, traveling and not having enough self care time.
I am in the midst of a busy season now, with some flying thrown in for good measure. While some flights are short (like getting to Seattle and then being on the ferry and sitting in a car), they are also kind – at the end you land in a house full or Restorative Exercise Institute staff and you stretch for hours every day undoing what damage travel has done. Others are not so kind – as being in transit between LA and Sofia, a total of 21 hours of sitting, and some walking, interspersed with stretching for good measure.
This time around I decided to start preparing for flying earlier. Here’s what I did:
- The night before I had a foot and neck massage. The Chinese guy nextdoor to us swears I am one of the few westerners who can handle traditional Chinese massage, which he lovingly calls ‘’ no pain no gain massage’’. He beat me up well, and my neck felt amazing after. Deep tissue is like a mother’s kiss compared to what Andy’s (his real name, ya?) hands feel like. All loosened up and ready to go.
- The morning of the flight I had some extra water and creamtop yogurt and almonds for breakfast. Flying is extremely dehydrating and making sure you have enough fat and water in your system is key. This is also my excuse for slathering coconut oil all over my face and neck the night before the flight.
- A bit before leaving the house I did a serious psoas release and chest opening followed by laying in the sun on the ground for some gentle grounding. How about this for a though? What if you matched your flight time with grounding time? While I will probably not match the time, I will still do my best to spend some time with bare feet in the grass.
- I packed balls for foot work during waiting. I personally love the Melt kits, but even a good old tennis ball will do the trick. While standing around the airport lounge, I did some foot massage and got my feet all mobile after sitting for hours.
- I stretched on the plain and at the airport. Here’s the deal: even if you look like a total freak there is a slim chance you will ever see these people again. (Just like those people who got to look into my suitcase as I was unloading it to meet the baggage limit). Got a good look at my backside doing a double calf stretch? You are welcome!
- I took my FitBit with me to measure how much walking I did at the airport. Being conscious of my walking I did 6000 steps in LA and another 9000 in Munich. That’s 6 miles total for me in 24 hours which most people spend doing zero miles. And yes I did stairs instead of elevators. Being at the airport is a chance to move, not an excuse to sit. Of course I have the freedom of no kids in my care while I travel and while I realize not everyone travels alone, you can always walk, sit in various stretchy ways on the floor and play games with the kids.
- I slept a lot before and after – sleep deprivation seems to be what gets people the most – between the stress of flight, the dehydration and the tension of getting places on time and packing your mobile life in a suitcase – you may find yourself overreacting to the smallest challenges. Sleeping builds resilience, so I made extra time to sleep and supplement with magnesium.
What about you? How do you manage flying and traveling in general? While self care is a pattern in my life that I keep working on, I have finally decided traveling will not be an excuse to leave my body uncared for.