It is not uncommon for me to get a text from one of my athletes post travel stating that they are in need of a recovery day or are feeling sluggish the day after traveling. In particular when flying.
I preach mobility and hydration to all my athletes when they are not traveling; well, the same rules apply when traveling. Here is my short list of what I pack on every trip, no matter how short of a trip it is.
Let’s face it, airplane seat are uncomfortable. No matter your height or leg length…those seats suck! Add in the dehydration from the pressurized cabin at altitude, and you have a recipe for disaster. Not to mention, desperately trying to avoid using a bathroom 36,000 miles up can lead to dehydration. And that in flight cocktail or beer doesn’t help either. Do not get me wrong, I’m not saying no alcoholic beverages when flying. I’m a fan of a beer(or two) to calm my nerves and relax while I put my trust in someone I don’t know transporting me via the sky 2000 miles away. Yes, I know it’s the safest form of transportation; I just have a problem relinquishing control!
Anyhow, here is the list of what accompanies me in my carry-on bag, whether by plane or car.
1. My trusty Gemini from Mobility Wod, this can easily be substituted by taping 2 Lacrosse Balls together or WODFitters Double Lacrosse Ball Peanut. It looks like a big peanut. Perfect for rolling out the spine. Specifically the Thoracic spine which is the middle of your back. This area can get really tight when seated for long periods of time. I use it primarily on layovers and place it against the wall and roll up and down. It is also useful while seated to apply dynamic pressure on achy back muscles
2. 2. The Supernova, which can easily be substituted with a Softball or The Orb by Pro-Tech Athletics. This is perfect for rolling out the glutes and attacking the connective tissues around the hip. I use this in the terminal while waiting for the flight. This works as a preventative measure by mobilizing the hips before they get tight.
3. TriggerPoint Deep-Tissue Ball or a Lacrosse Ball. Perfect for getting into those tough to reach areas. In particular the upper shoulders and glutes. This can be used on the plane while seated. It is also fantastic to roll out your arches. Talk about a vacation for your feet.
Mobility deep tissue work promotes lower cortisol and increased dopamine levels. Ultimately getting you in a happy and relaxed mood. No beer needed, well maybe not NO beer!! It does this by triggering the parasympathetic nervous system, and setting the body into a "restful state”.
4. Empty water bottle, see below.
5. Electrolyte tablets or powder like Nuun or Skratch. Once inside the terminal you can purchase a bottle of water or use the drinking fountain (for free) fill your bottle and add the electrolyte tablets as listed above to your water. Pre, during and post hydration are essential to battling fatigue when traveling! You will just have to come to terms with using a bathroom at 400+ miles per hour 5 miles in the sky.
6. I purchase almonds to take on the plane with me. The salt is a nice bonus, and they are a healthy snack that helps you feel full while on your long journey. Don’t get me wrong, Gummy Bears while traveling are amazing….but, fight the urge and stick with the almonds.
7. Neck Pillow. This is a must have for me. Keeping my spine in alignment is crucial to me fending off a sore neck and back for days to come post travel. I use a bright pink one that is highly visible, so I am less apt to leave it on a plane or in the hotel room. Additionally who steals a Pink Neck Pillow!?
8. USA TODAY Crossword Book. This helps me take my mind off of flying, which as stated earlier is slightly nerve racking for me. It’s also a great way to train the brain while I am taking a break from training the body.
9. Last but not least in my actual luggage I pack a The Stick-Massage stick and a 1.25” resistance band, any brand will do. The stick is fairly self-explanatory. Roll out any of the tight muscles on the legs, my quads in particular get when seated for long periods of time. The resistance band is for stretching, especially kicking it up a notch on the Iron Cross stretch and mobilizing the hips, while also stretching the lower back.
That is it, the full list of everything I bring to make traveling as comfortable as possible. Also ensuring when I get off the plane I’m ready to enjoy vacation activities, train or race.
Hope this helped and as always if you have questions please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
More of a visual person? Luckily for you there is a companion video to this blog post. Click here to have a look at how I pack for mobility!
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Cheers and rubber side down, WES