It’s a treat to fly private. Sitting upright and being inactive for long periods, however, affects your blood vessels and muscles, which is why some feel achy after a flight. One of the many comforts of traveling in a private jet is the ability to move around the cabin as you please. Take advantage of this benefit and do a few simple stretches to increase your circulation and loosen your muscles during the flight.
What Happens to Your Body during a Private Flight
When you sit upright, the muscles in the hamstrings, hip flexors, lower back, hips, quads and glutes shorten. When shortened for prolonged periods (i.e., after sitting for a long time), they become tight. Along with the tension, a feeling of excessive fatigue may follow, even after you land.
In addition, when you bend your legs for several hours, it’s more difficult for blood to circulate throughout your body and nourish your muscles because the blood vessels in your legs are compressed. This makes it more difficult for blood to return to your heart and may cause muscle pain and feet swelling.
While these situations are an annoyance to most healthy individuals, the effects of sitting for prolonged periods may increase the risk of forming blood clots in the legs, a serious condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Your age, some health conditions and medications increase the risk of developing DVT, so it’s best to consult with a physician before taking off on a private plane.
Doing the following exercises once an hour to increase your circulation and prevent muscle pain. It’s also a good idea to remain hydrated and walk around the cabin a few times during a flight. Keep in mind that if there’s turbulence, it’s best to do seated exercises.
- Heel-to-bum: Stand up, lift your right ankle toward your bum, and hold your foot with your right hand, as you would before or after a jog. Hold this position for 15 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
- Calf stretch: Stand about two feet away from a wall or the back of a chair. Place your hands on the wall or chair and lean against it. Slide your right foot back until you feel a stretch in your calf; hold the position for 15 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
- Arm cross: While standing or sitting, stretch your right arm across the front of your body without twisting your torso. Use your left hand to hold the arm in place. Hold this position for 15 seconds and alternate arms.
- Leg extension: As you sit, extend your right leg straight in front of you. Hold the position for 15 seconds, and point and flex your foot at the same time; repeat with the other leg.
- Ankle on knee: While seated, place your right ankle on your left knee. This may be similar to how you cross your legs when you sit. Hold your ankle in place with your left hand and gently push down on your right knee with your right hand until you feel a stretch. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds before alternating sides.
- Knee-ups: Recline your seat and lie back. Bring your right knee as close to your chest as possible. You may bend your knee or keep your leg straight. Use your hand to keep your leg in this stretched position for 15 seconds.
- Neck rolls: Sit up straight or stand, relax your shoulders, and bring your chin to your chest as you exhale. Gently and slowly, rock your head from side to side and around for 10 seconds. Then tilt your head back and look upward so it seems as if your nose and spine form a straight line; hold this position for 10 seconds.