Everyone looks forward to vacation, but the discomfort of sitting on an airplane can be discouraging. Pack a tennis ball in your carry-on and use this trick to relieve tight muscles before you land!
It’s no fun starting your summer travels feeling stiff, tight, and achy. Luckily for you, we have a little trick to make traveling a lot less painful – and all you need is a tennis ball!
Self-myofascial release (SMR) is an incredible way to release stiff muscles. Similar to using a foam roller, a tennis ball can get into those tight spots for quick and easy release. Plus, tennis balls are small and portable, so you can take them anywhere!
Suffering from a sore neck, back and shoulders? Get our mobility guide to ease pain and soreness.
Get The FREE Mobility Guide To Fix Your Pain Today!
Have your tennis ball handy during your flight to soothe and lengthen out those muscles from the comfort of your seat.
Tips for SMR:
- When you find a knot, stop and apply pressure for 20–30 seconds.
- It will most likely feel intense, like getting a deep tissue massage, but you should never hurt. If you feel any sharp pain, stop immediately.
- Roll the tennis ball in both directions on each muscle.
- We recommend checking with your doctor before beginning this SMR routine, especially if you’ve suffered from a past injury.
Neck | 1 min per side
Your neck is probably the first spot to act up during a long flight. This exercise will help soothe that pain away.
- Gently press the tennis ball down on the right side of your neck, below your jaw bone.
- Slowly roll the ball down the side of your neck towards your shoulder, stopping to hold it when you find a knot.
- Once you get to the bottom, roll back up. Continue rolling up and down for about 30 seconds.
- Next, move to the back right side of the neck, next to the vertebrae. Roll up and down for about 30 seconds.
- Switch to the left side.
Trapezius | 1 min per side
Get your shoulders down and away from your ears with this SMR move.
- Place the ball on top of your shoulder, where it meets your neck.
- Press down and roll the ball back and forth and in little circles around the area. Knots are common in this spot, so when you find one, stop and press down for 20–30 seconds or until you feel the knot release.
- Keep rolling for about a minute, then repeat on the other side.
Chest | 1 min per side
Sitting for a long period can cause chest tightness. This exercise will feel amazing as you release all of that tension.
- Place the tennis ball under your right collar bone. Press down with your left hand and hold.
- Begin to roll up and down an inch for about 30 seconds, pausing when you find a knot.
- Then, roll inward an inch or two towards the center of the chest and then down an inch or two. Whenever you find a tight spot, you can hold it down or make small circles in the area. Continue rolling another 30 seconds or so.
- Repeat on the left side.
Rhomboids | 1 min per side
Use the back of your seat as a prop to help get the knots out of your upper back.
- Place the tennis ball between the seat and your mid-upper back, inside your right shoulder blade.
- Slide your body down so that the ball rolls up your back towards your right shoulder. Stop whenever you find a knot and hold. Once you get right below the shoulder, roll the ball back downwards.
- Continue rolling for about one minute, then switch sides.
Quadriceps | 1 min per side
Smooth out tightness in your quads with this easy SMR move.
- Place the tennis ball on your right thigh, just above your knee.
- Gently press down with your palm and begin to roll the ball up towards your hip.
- Whenever you feel a point of tension or intensity, stop and hold the ball down on the spot for 20–30 seconds, or until you feel a release. Once you get to the top of the thigh, roll back down towards the knee.
- Switch to the left side.
IT Band | 1 min per side
The hips get super tight from sitting for a long time, which causes tension in the IT band. This exercise will help to free up those muscles.
- Place the tennis ball on your outer right thigh, above your knee. Press down with your palm and hold for 20–30 seconds.
- Then, roll the ball up your outer thigh towards your hip, stopping to hold whenever you feel a tight spot.
- Once you get up to the hip, roll back down towards the knee.
- Continue rolling up and down your IT band for one minute, then switch sides.
Feet | 2 min per side
When traveling, we find ourselves on our feet a lot. This feel-good exercise will release all of that tension from walking and adventuring. Apologies in advance to those sitting around you, because you’ll have to take your shoes off for this one!
- Place your ball on the floor and rest the inside arch of your right foot on top of it. Press down and hold.
- Roll up towards the toes slowly, then back down through the arch and towards the heel. Stop and hold whenever you find a tight spot.
- Repeat this process through the middle and outer edge of the foot, for a total of at least two minutes.
- Switch feet.
Love tennis ball hacks? Grab one for this tight legs routine, or use two tennis balls for this quick back pain fix. If you’re looking for more travel tips, try these soothing stretches that feel ah-mazing after a long flight.