Traveling currently has become more of a chore than a pleasure. The airplanes seem to have narrower seats and more rows. I jokingly say that I can remember the airline I flew by looking at their insignia impressed into my knee caps. Also, the baggage fees have resulted in travelers packing more and more into their carry ons so that putting them into overhead bins, and more importantly, taking them out, has become a health hazard, particularly for back injuries.

After having been frozen in a seat for hours, moving those stiff joints makes a lot of sense. Going back to the baggage fees, many individuals do not have space in their carry-on luggage for gym clothes to wear to the exercise room. It is a good excuse to get them out of doing something physical. That is not the case. Many exercises can be done in a hotel room without special equipment.

If you are older, sedentary, have medical conditions like heart disease, or back pain, exercise can be good for you but it is essential that you check with your personal physician before starting increased physical activity. There are exercises to avoid, and it makes sense to find out about them before an injury.


Knees to Chest – Bring up one knee to the chest and count to three and then relax for a count of six. Do not hold your breath when doing any of these exercises. Then do the other leg. Do both legs simultaneously if you are comfortable. Do no more than three repetitions if you have not done these exercises previously.

Back Rotation – Keep your shoulders on the surface of the bed or floor and turn your pelvis and legs with your knees together to one side and hold for one minutes or as long as tolerated. Alternate sides and do three repetitions.

Hip and Buttock Stretching – Place your foot on your opposite knee and pull the bent knee across your body toward the opposite shoulder. Hold for a count of three and then relax for a count of six. Alternate legs and do ten repetitions.

For more information about back pain and exercises, go to

David Borenstein, MD
Executive Editor