Out of all the gadgets and fitness tools available to address pain, circulation, and tight muscles, there’s a simple one you may be overlooking: tennis balls. And they might just aid in the prevention of blood clots on long trips.
You sit on a plane for hours without any real wiggle room, your neck and back stiffened, and your blood not flowing like it should be. Conventional wisdom says to get up and walk around during your flight to help your circulation. That’s not always feasible. A tennis ball massage, however, is.
Performing a self-massage improves blood circulation to targeted parts of the body. It’s also a great technique for reducing pain and tension in the muscles. Tennis balls are small enough to carry onto a plane with you and using one during a flight won’t take up much space.
In addition to working your legs while seated, you can also address your hands, arms, and back. Yoga and fitness professionals sometimes tell clients to roll a tennis or golf ball on the soles of their feet. Doing so loosens up fascia and stiffness in the body, and stimulates blood flow.
Here are several tennis ball exercises you can adapt to your needs while traveling on long flights:
Give your ankles a good stretch. Place the ball under your foot and flex your ankle as you roll the ball back and forth. Hold each position for a few seconds. Switch to your other foot. You should be able to do this with your shoes on. If your neighbors don’t mind, you could also slip your shoes off for this one.
It’s easy for circulation to be poor in your hands and fingers too! Get the blood flowing by gripping a tennis ball with light pressure and bending your wrist inwards and outwards.
Massaging your thighs with a tennis ball will improve circulation while you’re seated. Roll the ball vertically from the knee upwards to the top of your thigh. Repeat this motion on your entire thigh as you apply gentle pressure.
Legs and Calves
Following the same technique as thigh rolls, roll the ball upwards from the ankle to the knee, and on the calf. Repeat on other leg. Apply gentle pressure and pay special attention to any areas of tension.
Upper Back and Shoulders
Simply roll the ball across your shoulders, neck, and upper back. Run it over any knots or pain points. You can also wedge one between your back and the seat, being careful not to hunch over.
These techniques are also useful on long road trips for both passengers and drivers! Drivers can pull over to take a 15-minute massage break. If your back or shoulders start to ache while driving, position one or two balls between your back and the seat, and gently rock back and forth. It will feel like you’re dancing!
Remember to pack some tennis balls or a foam roller the next time you travel. Tuck it away in your purse or carry-on luggage and make your ride more comfortable.
Would you pack tennis balls for your next flight? Do you already use them for self-massage?