‘Tis the season for long car trips and too much time spent in cramped airplane seats. So here are some simple tips for relieving aches and pains while traveling.
To ease the stress of sitting for too long, take a couple of tennis balls or golf balls along and give yourself a much needed massage during your journey. Some people prefer tennis balls, while some want the pinpoint pressure provided by a golf or racquet ball. One of the places that tends to need attention the most is the one we put the most pressure on…namely, our hard-working derriere. Simply sit on the ball, moving it around to find the areas that are most sensitive. Gently roll and twist your body over the ball, massaging those tight places. If you are able, allow your full weight to rest slowly onto the ball, feeling the tissues melt and soften. If that is too much pressure, add a little weight at a time until you feel the muscles relax.
Other great places to massage are the lower back and the area between the shoulder blades. Use whichever firmness of ball feels best and place it in between your body and the back of the car or plane seat. Gently push into the ball, wiggling your back just so to get that “Ahhhh! That’s the spot!” feeling. Only use as much pressure as feels good, and only keep it going in one place for a short while. It is possible to work the muscles too much and create some soreness for yourself.
For relief from the stresses of long car rides, you can also massage the undersides of the thighs—especially on the leg that’s pressing on the gas pedal—, as well as the underside of the arms to provide some support for your shoulders to rest down upon. Rolling your bare feet on a ball can send relaxation up through your entire body, allowing a long deep breath of ease to be felt.
I know people who keep a bag full of balls of varying sizes and firmness on hand for long trips. It’s a simple, creative and inexpensive idea, and, if you’ve ever had aches and pains while traveling, you know there’s nothing like being able to give yourself a quick, refreshing treatment during your trip or after arriving at your destination.
by Jill Gerber, LMT, Certified Advanced Rolfer and Rolfing® Movement Integration Practitioner