While travel can be exciting and fun, it also is a break in our movement routine. Regardless of if you sit during the day, travel requires you to be seated for hours on end. Over the last Thanksgiving weekend I did a lot of walking… all the way from Philly to Los Angeles. That is, if you count walking on the airplane while flying from PHL to LAX.

Behold a sample Travel Day itinerary:

  • Wake Sit (meditate/pray)
  • Sit (Drive)
  • Sit (Yummy goodbye brunch at Fitzpatrick’s Deli)
  • Sit (Drive – errands)
  • Sit (Drive 1+ hour to the PHL airport)
  • Stand in Security Lines/small amt of walking
  • Sit (Flight= 6 hours)
  • 15 min deboard, walk to cab
  • Sit (Cab home)
  • Sit (assisted squat 🙂 while eating dinner)
  • Sleep 10:30pm

With this amount of sitting looming before me, I questioned how to get in my daily dose of “Vitamin M” (M for Movement). So, during the flight back to Los Angeles I opted to spend as much time walking as possible.

Walking up & down the aisles warranted looks, and the Stewards/Stewardesses played “turn on the seatbelt” sign despite no turbulence, but my body and feet rewarded me! I daydream about walking barefoot while gathering berries while my man hunts…. But last I checked I still live in Los Angeles. While the upside is that it’s less likely I’ll be eaten by a bear in the near future, I have become quite unabashed about creating opportunities for movement. Walking is one of the easiest ways to get my movement in, and it requires the use of our featured body part: the feet.

In my last article, we discussed the extensor digitorum longus (big toe lifting muscle), today we move upwards to an unsung muscle called the peroneus longus.

While you read on, here is a more-TSA friendly stretch routine that can help you if you are going to be sitting for long periods of time in the near future (modify by sitting in a chair):

The peroneus longus and brevis are 2 muscles that help evert the foot as well as assist to plantar flex (imagine pressing down on your car’s gas pedal). They are located on the outer side (lateral side) of the fibula (bone in your lower leg) and they attach in your (drumroll please) foot! Fascinating! Want the details? These muscles which aid your gait and help form the foot arch insert into the 1st metatarsal and medial cuneiform.

These muscles are meant to be worked and utilized, but when we underuse them by sitting often and/or wearing heeled shoes, we miss out on exercising them in their full range of motion. I estimated that I walked about 1-2 hours and did about 1.5 hours of stretches/stability exercises all in the comfort of a flight home. That’s what I call closing the sedentary “gap”!

While I realize that mass mayhem might ensue if everyone spent the flight walking, there are modifications that are much more TSA friendly that can help prime your peroneal longus and brevis muscles for when you do get up & at ‘em. There is no quick fix or pill that supplements Vitamin M – we must move our DNA in as many ways as possible on a daily basis.

What are your favorite ways to stay moving while in transit? Let me know in the comments below!

Enjoyed this article? Read Hit the Road…with your Balls!
Christina Broome

For years, movement has interspersed my life with health, joy and adventure. By teaching mindful movement classes my hope is that others will share in the joy of movement and awaken to their own abundant level of fitness. Registered Yoga Teacher- 200 hour level. Certified in Nutrition & Fitness, San Diego Mesa College. Certified Yoga Tune Up® teacher. Certified in Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Ball training. Completed Yoga Tune Up® Shoulder Immersion.

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Diana

I had to put down my coffee. I just flew from DC to LA for a training with Jill. I brought my green balls on the plane, planning to keep different parts of my body awake during the flight. Stuck in the middle, between two large men folk, I also had to practice being assertive. Every hour or so I would excuse myself (!) and ask the aisle guy to get up so I could take a stroll to refill my water bottle. (I swear, his hearing got worse and worse as the flight went on!) The funny part –… Read more »

Kammy Fung

Movement is the medicine. Once I list out the hours you spend on a chair, I’m surprised that I’m sitting too much with the chair. The exercises I do inside the yoga classes are not enough to counter what I do while I sit during the day.
Thank you for the information or the peroneus Longus and peroneus breves. Happy walking! Sitting is the new cigarette.

Jennifer

I travel often for work and unless I’m running late on thine, I try to never take escalators or elevators or moving walkways. A couple of years ago I realized how draining traveling was and decided to try not giving into the lethargic nature of a travel day. I developed those strategies and others for getting the most movement in even when traveling for more than 8 hours. I always do a few laps around a terminal. I only wait in the gate when we start to board. And even then, I typically find a wall to rollout against while… Read more »

Meaghan

Thank you for suggesting a few strategies to “close the sedentary gap”. I, too, find it very difficult to sit for long periods of time while travelling and can feel my body’s need to move, especially in the feet. Carrying yoga tune up therapy balls the next time I travel will be a great way to get some movement and tissue stimulation in while seated!

Isabelle Côté

This article give me the opportunity to understand why I have so little move in my ankle ! And solution to try ! Merci !

Robert Ouellet

Sit down and wait, sit down and drive, sit down and study… if you are walking all your body working but you will be surprise that your brain is also thinking when a man is on a run he is in action. His creativity his blooming, but if you have a problem take off the glue from the seat. Don’t be afraid to leave your pantalon off the chair to run as a new man , you will feel that the life is in front, around and inside you. At the beginning you will have maybe some problem to walk… Read more »

Nick Shrewsbury

I appreciate that you focused on the way that underuse of these muscles can contribute to chronic pain! Eye opening!

Susan

I thought of takin my balls with me for working out the ‘travel’ when I arrive to my destination but not during. What a great idea. Thank You!

Simona

Thank you, Christina for this contribution. Just love the Vitamine M and I can hear you! For long distance flights I always try to get a dose of Vitamine M, like Yoga or go for a run on the day of the flight. In the plane I usually take the window seat out of the reason to put my legs up on the wall and move my feet. (and yes, I know some consider this as rude). This is my survival for long distance flights. Next time I will carry my YTU balls with me and try your stretch routine.… Read more »

Jonathan McKinna

Thank you, Christina! I’m driving from NYC to NC to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I was already planning on feeding my soul during those 10 hours with a good audiobook. But you’ve motivated me to feed my tissues as well! I’m going to permanently relocate one pair of Roll Model therapy balls to the glove compartment. That way they’ll always be handy for those stretches of road when I’m in the passenger’s seat. And when we take breaks to walk my dogdaughter, I’ll pretend she’s walking me! Happy holidays!

Claudia Muehlenweg

While I always use my YTU balls on long car drives (i put them next to the spine, starting on the top; whenever i want to move them, i just lean forward a bit to let them drop an inch or two lower), i have never even thought doing any YTU on long flights. And i do fly a lot to Germany where my family still lives. I love how you just ignored the looks from other passengers and the flight crew, not an easy task! Normally the only people walking are the parents of little ones, trying to calm… Read more »

Mandy

Love to hear about strategies for creating movement opportunities wherever you are! I’ve never had the “balls” to walk this much on a plane, but I do always have a pair of balls with me to turn the plane or car seat into a massage chair. Never leave home without your balls.

Paula Bishop

I’m one of those crazy people who doesn’t mind when my connecting flight is in another terminal because I can get a power walk in. I don’t use the moving sidewalks and always take the stairs (if they’re available) rather than the escalator.

Christina Broome

Hi all, thank you for your insights and comments! I’ve appreciated reading about your experiences with travel, balls and the like. Darcy, I just sent you an email, congrats on your San Diego-bound path!

Julia Sims Haas

I never would have thought to practice this is a chair! I’m going try it with my seniors since they are generally a more sedentary population I’m sure they’ll benefit greatly from it.

Genea

You are very brave walking the isles of the airplane. Cranky travelers often scoff at people who do this…..they are probably just cranky because they didn’t get enough vitamin “M”. I usually travel by car instead of plane so it is easier to get movement in. A few stretches, a couple jumping jacks, and a few laps around the car at every gas station, rest stop, and pee break usually does the trick.

Sarah Harmon

I am a big fan of the term “Vitamin M” and it is important to stress that we can’t get this in a pill form! I have some travel coming up this summer and am always looking for inspiration to get my own vitamin M, especially now that I’m pregnant. So thank you! I also love traveling with my YTU balls as they’re great when there’s turbulence or I’m getting dirty looks for being in the aisles.

Diana Germain

That is great you managed to get in so much walking on your flight! Six hours is a very long time to sit! My favorite movement while traveling is twisting, an easy seated twist helps me release stiffness and reset. Sitting for long periods anywhere makes me crave movement – movement in our society is not the default whether it be on long flight or sitting at the office or even at home. All this works against bringing movement into daily life and we have to slip in what we can where we can, and sometimes be the person who… Read more »

Rachel T.

I live in Philly and you caught my eye with this title! I have done a week long road trip of the same(ish) route with my 3 bffs two years ago just after I finished my 200hr ytt. They made me teach them yoga at rest stops and gas stations in Tennessee, Kansas, and at Grand Canyon National Park before we finally got to finish the trip doing beach yoga with our toes in the pacific!
Definitely needed those movement nutrients along along the way 🙂 I just wish so many people didn’t spend EVERY DAY this way!

Carol Anderson

I Love the thought of vitamin M! My feet legs and back definitely feel it when I fly and drive for long periods of time. The Yoga Tune Up Balls really help with increasing circulation therefore helping with edema or pooling of blood in lower extremities. It keeps you on you refreshed and ready to go.

Katy Haldiman, MS, RN

Traveling is sometimes necessary, as well as rewarding and fun, but the long periods of decreased movement are definitely a downside. I try to incorporate as much movement as possible, including walking, squatting, or other alternatives to sitting while waiting for flights, etc. I also carry my Yoga Tuneup® therapy balls! I love that they are so portable and easy to use almost anywhere, such as airports. I will definitely be trying this stretch the next time I travel. Thanks for the great article!

Darcy Clifford

This was an awesome post! You’re so right! It is incredibly difficult to sit on a flight for a long period of time. I could definitely relate to this since my family lives in Ireland and I fly frequently it is always hard for me to sit for a long period of time and I often end up being incredibly sore and achey for a long period of time even after the flight! I have certain spots within my body that ache more than others. For example, I have constant upper back pain, between my two scapulas. I also have… Read more »

Brittany L

Appreciate the savvy ideas… Too bad you weren’t flying to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) as they have a yoga room you could utilize . I am new to the yoga tune up world and brought my balls along to a short flight from NY to Austin and what a world of difference it made . I stowed my balls wrapped in my fleece jacket and sat on them to open up the glutes . Try it !

Melody W

I love your framing of movement as vitamin “M” and reference to “closing the sedentary gap”! I carry my YTU Therapy Balls with me whenever I travel and use them the most against walls in the airport while waiting for my flights to board. They should sell them at all airport stores! 😉

Jill McCubbin-Clare

For flight and long drives, I crayon the balls and put them under my hamstrings. It helps so much. I also place the balls along the spine, especially up near the traps. I will add this heel stretching exercise too!

Francine Young

This is one of the biggest challenges of travel I have and hear from others. I personally try to tense and relax muscles as well. I have also taken a portable tens machine for the chronic, more problematic areas such as shoulder and sciatica pain. Most recently I have discovered yoga tune up balls and they are a god send!

V. Ceglarek

You’re right – it just isn’t feasible for everyone on a flight to be up and moving, and even getting that sorely needed stretch by the lavatories can earn you dirty looks if you stay too long. Until we get our personal hamster wheels instead of seats, I deal with by making micromovements in my seat. I just play around with tensing and relaxing muscles, sometimes rather randomly, and sometimes with upward and downward progressions throughout my body.

I’m interested to hear what others do!