How to Not Feel Cramped on a Plane, According to Le Stretch’s Charlee Atkins

Photos: Well + Good Creative

Is it just me or does flying feel more and more like a stress test in the sky? Sure, traveling itself is one of the fastest ways to feel transformed. But actually getting there—you know, the stale air that dries out even the dewiest complexions, the often nerve-wracking choppy rides that send my anxiety into overdrive, and the cramped quarters that leave me departing the plane a hobbled version of myself—not so much.

The quickest route to feeling back to myself? A quick plane stretch. Charlee Atkins, a master SoulCycle instructor with two white-hot methods of her own (who happens to be co-leading Well+Good's very first wellness retreat in Palm Springs, BTW), stopped by the office this week, and I peppered her with questions about how to loosen up while en route.

"While I'm waiting to board, I always do a few quad stretches and forward folds," Atkins tells me. "It’s funny to look around because I feel like stretching is contagious. I'm always catching other people stretching around me while in the queue."

Here, Charlee Atkins shares how to stretch on a plane so that you land loose and ready for whatever your travels have in store.


1. Cross-legged stretch

It can be a tight squeeze, but if you can find room on the plane, pull both of your feet up on the seat, crossing them over one another. Then, push down your legs to stretch the inner thighs.

Charlee Atkins

2. Spinal twist

You know the motion you make when looking to the back of the plane to see when your pretzels will arrive? It's actually a way to stay loose, too. Place one hand on the opposite knee and pull on the headrest with the other, using it to get you deeper into a spinal twist; then, repeat on the opposite side.

Charlee Atkins

3. Hip Opener

Place one ankle on top of the opposite knee (like a reclined Pigeon) then flex the foot that's crossed over the knee, pressing it toward the floor. Deepen the stretch by gently pushing down on your knee.

4. Quad stretch

Lock down the outside seat for this one (or make friends with your neighbor). Stand in the aisle—just make sure there's no traffic coming—place your closest hand on the back of the seat to help you balance. Then, use your opposite hand to grab the leg on the same side (aim for the top of the foot, not the ankle) to stretch the quad. Repeat on the other side.

Have you heard the news? Charlee Atkins is leading our inaugural wellness retreat. To get more stretching (and sweat) intel from her in person, email to book your spot in Palm Springs.

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