Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pilates and Travel

Many of my Pilates clients/Physical Therapy patients ask me how to keep their bodies intact and integrate their Pilates practice while on the road traveling for work or pleasure.
Here are my easy tips!
1) Many of you may know this already but spring for 4 wheeled luggage. I just purchased a carry on 4 wheeler and it is truly a backsaver. You can maneuver it alongside you with it upright rolling on all 4 wheels with virtually one finger! An ergonomic gem! Here I'm gliding this 47lb suitcase with 2 fingers. (Filled with a spine-not sure what security thought-and new Pilates tools from the Pilates Method Alliance conference in Palm Springs where I made my debut as a presenter)

2) Travel with a soft (9-11in) inflatable miniball and resistance band, both compact and highly portable. I keep them in a ziplock baggie in my purse.
Band and Ball
On the plane Inflate the miniball just slightly and place it at the small of your back to help ensure proper pelvic alignment while providing wonderful lumbar support. Adjust inflation level to fit your spine/low back space. Airplane seating promotes either an "upright and locked" position of the spine or an unsupported slouched position.  The miniball makes a great difference and your back will thank you for it.  It's also good to drink a lot of water so you'll need to get up and walk which prevents rigor mortis.  Wrist and ankle circles are helpful for your circulation and venous return. Head and Shoulder circles will help stave off stiffness, headaches and keep you mobile.

Slightly inflated-ready to serve as lumbar support
Same slightly inflated ball as lumbar

At the hotel  There are myriad uses of the resistance band for both upper and lower body strengthening and stretching. Pictured here is the hamstring stretch. The Hamstrings (muscles in the back of your leg) can get short and tight with prolonged sitting on planes. Hamstring flexibility is of key importance in maintaining good spine health. This mattress is firm so I just cleared the bed and did my thing. If you don't have a firm mattress, use the floor.  The band saved me as later that day I spent more time on my butt than upright on skis in Park City. I averted injury despite imitating a human pretzel imbedded in snow more times than I care to mention. 

For Core Strength, the Miniball is one of my favorite tools. Place the fully inflated miniball between your shoulder blades and drape yourself back over the ball with your hands interlaced, supporting your head.

On the exhale, hollow your belly as you slowly raise your chest so your bottom ribs come closer to your hips. Keep your head and neck relaxed, supported by your hands.

On the inhale, drape back over the ball. Because your moving from an extended position of the spine to just a diagonal line (neutral position) of the spine, it is safe for those with low bone density/osteoporosis. 

Finally, if available-enjoy the amenities of the fitness room, whirlpool etc. that your hotel has to offer.

I hope you find this useful-Happy Travels!


  1. Awesome tips, Teresa! I will practice in my next trip :-) -yanli

  2. Great, easy and a must! Thanks for the tips. Always travel with my thera-band, but now will tote my small ball too! laurie