13 AUG 2019: I’m pretty low maintenance as far as gals are concerned, so you can imagine my preparation for an upcoming trip overseas is pretty low key. In fact, a light carryon shared between my partner and I should do the trick. It’s less for me to carry, plus, there’s the peace of mind that comes along with not worrying about my luggage taking off on its own misadventure. This vacation is long overdue and I am not in the mood for a real-life episode of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

But, no matter how light I’m traveling, I will always make room for a little something extra in my carry on.

Among the cornucopia of my accompanying in-flight snacks, I am also bringing a tennis ball.

You’ve all heard the recommendations before, heck, if you’ve read my columns you’ve probably heard them from me, too. If you’re in for a long flight, move it or lose it, sister! Whether it’s walking up and down the aisles or simply stretching, it’s important to keep your circulation mov-ing. When you’re stationed in the same seated position for hours on end, things pretty much come to a standstill.

Say goodbye to battling seatbelt signs, drink carts and unexpected turbulence walking the aisles, and say hello to your new best friend.

A tennis ball is compact in nature so there’s almost always room for it, and it’s rounded edges make it a highly effective massage tool. Lacrosse balls are actually my first choice with their added firmness, but tennis balls are more likely to be lying around.

The human body has evolved to be agile and always on the move. Not seated in the same place for 8 odd hours as we hop over the Atlantic ocean. Let’s be honest, traveling is fantastic, but the flying part…not so much. Sure you can slide your seat back a few inches riddled with guilt at the disappearing airspace of the poor soul behind you. You close your eyes and try to sleep, instead of sheep, you count the different strains of bacteria that are probably inhabiting that notorious headrest. Muscles start to cramp and your circulation is, well…the opposite of robust. But, I’ll need to be writing many more articles to spring for the luxurious upgrades of first class travel. So, until then, I’ll take to my trusty tennis ball to make flying a more enjoyable experience.

Rolling a tennis ball against target muscle groups in your feet, ankles, lower back and neck will help to alleviate the tension that comes from being confined in a seated position for an extended period of time. The best part? It’s all within the comfort of your very own, private 2 square foot seating area!

Take Drake’s advice and start from the bottom (and then work your way up).

Roll out the bottoms of your feet with the tennis ball between your foot and the floor of the air-craft in a circular motion. Then, using your hand, focus the tennis ball in concentric motions around the ankle and calf area before moving up to the hips. Next, pin the tennis ball against the back of your seat to encourage blood flow tension release in your lower back and then up to your shoulders and the base of your neck. And voila!

Really focus on the feeling of the massage to make it a mindful practice, particularly if flying is a stressful experience. We talk a lot about the benefits during long flights, but the reality for most is that we sit at a desk for an 8-hour workday in a similar fashion. Sure the air pressure changes aren’t the same in your cubicle but the effects of prolonged sitting are. Try it tomorrow and see for yourself! Besides, it’s sure to come in handy when I finally meet Roger Federer. Not that we’ll play a quick match or anything, but it sure would make for a great autograph piece!


Sabrina Santer

Sabrina Santer uses her academic and holistic nutrition background to share insight and inform readers on travel wellness tips and healthy eating around the world. A witty sense of humour sprinkles her work as proof that healthy need not be boring. 

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