A Wedding Reception
A night of dancing can be loads of fun, but if you're not used to it, those hours wearing dressy shoes can leave you sore the next day. "You lose fat under the ball of your foot with age, so wear shoes with extra cushioning," advises Suzanne M. Levine, D.P.M., a New York City podiatric surgeon. In the days leading up to the event, strengthen and stretch your legs and feet with the following daily exercises:
- Practice picking up pencils with your toes.
- While placing your hand on a wall or a banister, step on a stair with the balls of your feet only, letting your heels hang off the step. Slowly lower both heels. Hold for 20 seconds, then repeat.
- Throughout the day, periodically pretend you're pushing a gas pedal up and down.
A long layover at the airport
Instead of sitting and waiting for your connecting flight, try walking briskly through the airport, says Mark Nutting, fitness director of Saco Sport and Fitness in Saco, Maine. "If you have 30 minutes, you can get in a whole workout."
Once you've warmed up your muscles, try these seated stretches:
- Sit near the edge of a chair and extend one leg in front of you, toes pointed up. Bend forward slightly at the hip, keeping your back straight, until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings. Hold for 20 seconds, then repeat with the opposite leg.
- While seated, cross your right leg over your left with your right ankle resting on your left knee in a figure-4 position. Gently push down your right knee until you feel a stretch in your right hip. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch legs; repeat.
An Extended Road Trip
Spending hours in a car can be painful if you don't take some precautionary measures before leaving home. First, make sure the driver's seat is at a 90-degree angle—not tipped back—to prevent your head from tilting forward, and that both you and your passenger have plenty of legroom. Also, don't sit on your wallet, as that can irritate the sciatic nerve. And allow extra time for breaks, says Christopher Travers, an exercise physiologist with the Cleveland Clinic. Try these hip and back stretches at each rest stop:
- In a lunge position, place your right foot on a bench or a step at knee height, and place both hands, palms down, on your right knee, keeping your left leg straight. Lean in slightly, hold for 20 seconds, then repeat with the opposite leg.
- While standing, raise your arms above your head, clasping your fingers together. Look up at your hands. Hold for 20 seconds, then relax.