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5 Post-flight Pilates moves to kickstart your trip

I love travelling, but I really hate flying! Can anyone else relate? Assuming you’re one of those regular folks like me, who typically travel in Economy, sitting for hours in a cramped seat on the plane isn’t the most pleasant experience. Fidgeting in the seat and getting up for toilet breaks and a quick stretch do help, somewhat, but I’m always at the ready to bolt out of the confining space of the cabin once the plane lands.

Hmm, doesn’t sound like the best way to start a trip? Get your body moving with these 5 Pilates exercises, and you’ll be amazed at how much your mood can be lifted simply by getting your blood circulating again. These moves can be done in the comfort of your hotel or Airbnb, no equipment needed, although a carpeted floor would certainly be more comfortable.

Femur Circles

Pilates Femur Circles

Starting position of Femur Circles; While you’re moving

Begin lying on your back and bring your knees in towards your chest. Place one hand on each knee, and use your hands to circle your knees outwards. Your legs can be completely relaxed, and you should feel a gentle massage in the joint where your thigh bone connects to your hip. This is a great move to get some mobility back into the hip flexor joint, which tends to get tight after long periods of sitting. Circle your knees outwards 15 times, then switch to circle inwards for another 15.

Side to Side

Pilates Side to Side

Starting position of Side to Side; ending position

We often have a habit of sitting in awkward positions on the plane due to the limited space, and our back can feel a bit iffy after that. The next few exercises will focus on realigning the spine and moving through the various segments to release the tension in the spine. From the Femur Circles, place your feet back on the ground, and keep your knees and feet together with the arms slightly apart. Drop your knees to one side, keeping the hips, knees and feet stacked, and shoulders on the ground. That rotation across the spine feels amazing after a long flight. Bring your knees back to the centre and drop them over to the other side. Repeat 10 times on each side.


Pilates Rolling

Starting position of Rolling; While you’re moving

I love this one! I highly recommend that you try this on a carpet or padded flooring though, otherwise it could be rather painful. Sit with your knees drawn into your chest, and balance just behind your sitting bones. Wrap your arms around your shins, look down towards your belly button and start curling your spine from the tailbone to roll yourself backwards and then come up. Try it! It’s really fun. It’s also a great way to get the blood pumping throughout your entire body. See if you can roll back and forth 5 times continuously.


Pilates Swan

Starting position of Swan; ending position

Take a breather after rolling, and turn over to lie on your front. Have your hands just underneath your shoulders, elbows pointing up and backwards, and close to your body. Inhale and lift your chest and press through the hands to come up into the Swan position, with the thighs off the mat. Think of reaching tall through the crown of your head and opening through the chest and upper back, rather than collapsing into your lower back. This is a great stretch for the front of the body. Bend through your elbows, lower yourself back to the ground and repeat the move 10 times.

Standing roll up/down

Pilates Standing roll down

Standing roll down

Come up into a standing position with your hands on the ground and head hanging downwards. Your knees can be bent to allow your hands to touch the ground. Slowly roll up from the base of the spine, one bone at a time, feeling that invigorating stretch throughout the length of your spine. This feels especially good when you’re stiff from that long flight, so take it slow and relish the stretch. Keep your head down till you’re almost at the top, and do some shoulder rolls at the top to loosen up your shoulders. To roll down, nod your chin towards your chest and imagine curling over a ball as you go down. Repeat this 10 times till you’re standing upright again, and you’re all set to begin your trip!

If you need help visualising how these exercises really work, check out my video on Instagram for a live demo.

Did you try these moves? How did you find them? Let me know in the comments!

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