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The surprising reason to pack a tennis ball in your carry-on

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Graphic by Abby Maker for Well+Good

At this point, you’re probably adept at packing a carry-on bag to perfection. Lavender essential oil? Check. Moisturizer? Check. Chic headphones? Check.

The one thing you’re missing, though? A tennis ball.

It might sound strange—unless, you know, you’re a tennis player—but one doctor made a case for toting around the small yellow orb while traveling. Ali Ghoz, MD, a London-based surgeon, told Daily Star that the ball make is the perfect tool for stretching mid-flight and massaging painful knots and muscle aches. (Because you can only crawl over your neighbor to walk it off so many times before they start to hate you.)

Increase circulation in your body by rolling a tennis ball everywhere from your shoulders and lower back to legs and the bottoms of your feet, Dr. Ali Ghoz said.

If you have a tennis ball, Dr. Ghoz said you can increase circulation in your body by rolling it everywhere from your shoulders and lower back to legs and the bottoms of your feet, as well as any other trigger points. Just hold the bright-yellow round to whatever area you choose, apply pressure, and feel your muscles start to loosen up.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a tennis ball on hand, though. Ghoz also noted you can use other methods too: “If you don’t have a massager, you can use your hands to stroke your muscles from the ankles upward, which will get the blood flowing back to your heart,” he told Daily Star.

Aside from giving yourself a mini massage, Ghoz mentioned drinking water regularly to keep your body hydrated also benefits your muscles. But unfortunately, all those trips to the bathroom might, indeed, make your neighbor hate you after all. (#WorthIt.)

Check out the 12 travel destinations wellness pros have on their bucket lists. And if you want to know how to stay healthy on the road, here are some great tips.