Whether by plane, train or car, travel can be a pain – literally. Especially if you have inflammatory arthritis or osteoarthritis. Less oxygen and nutrients reach your joints, which contributes to pain and stiffness. “Sitting for long stretches slows your circulation,” says Lisa M. Higginbotham, an occupational therapist and clinical rehab manager at a Cleveland Clinic hospital in Ohio.
Sluggish circulation also raises the risk for swelling and potentially dangerous blood clots, she adds. Moving at least every hour keeps joints mobile. Plus, “contracting your muscles pumps blood back to the heart,” says Eric Robertson, PT, director of Kaiser Permanente Northern California Graduate Physical Therapy Education. These moves done while seated can also help:
- Ankle pumps: Lift one foot a few inches off the ground. Slowly flex and point the foot 10 times. Repeat with the other foot.
- Ankle circles: Rotate your ankle to draw a circle with your foot five times, then change direction. Repeat with the other foot.
- Foot alphabet: Use your big toe to draw each letter of the alphabet. Repeat with the other foot.
- Isometric squeezes: Contract your calf muscles for three seconds and release. Repeat with your thighs, butt, abs and back.
- Marching: Place your hands on your knees. Lift each foot alternately a few inches off the ground as you step in place for a count of 10.
- Shoulder blade squeezes: Stick out your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together for three seconds. Release. Repeat 10 times.
- Shoulder rolls: Raise your shoulders toward your ears as you roll them forward. Then bring your shoulder blades down and together as you roll them back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times. Switch directions to roll them backward 10 times.
- Fist clench: Make fists with both hands. Slowly open and spread out your fingers. Repeat 10 times.
- Thumb to fingers: Spread your fingers, then use your thumb to touch each finger. Repeat 10 times with both hands.
Author: Sharon Liao
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