Why You Should Always Fly with a Tennis Ball in Your Carry-On

This strange carry-on item actually has some huge benefits—and could even save your life.

Let’s be honest: These days, airplanes can barely fit your own two legs. Given the limited real estate that comes with an economy class seat, you can expect to sit for hours with a stiff neck and back, which takes a serious toll on your circulation. While most people know that standing up and walking around during your flight can boost your blood flow, it’s not always possible (or convenient!) to do so. That’s where a tennis ball comes in.

Confused? Just hear us out. Tennis balls can put any fancy, expensive gadgets to shame when it comes to alleviating pain, improving circulation, and relieving tightness. And as it turns out, having one of these portable masseuses in your carry-on could prevent blood clots on long flights or road trips. You should always pack these things in your carry-on, too.

Rolling a tennis ball along your body loosens up stiff muscles and stimulates blood flow. It’s practically the ultimate on-the-go self-massage you never knew you needed. Not only are tennis balls are compact enough to fit into a small bag, but using one during a flight won’t bother your neighbors, either. And luckily, it’s not one of the things most likely to get you flagged in the security line.

There are certain areas you should target when performing a self-message. Key body parts in need of your attention include your ankles, wrists, thighs, legs (especially the calves), and upper back and shoulders. Apply gentle pressure to each area with the ball as you roll, and use extra care with any spots of tension or tough knots.

Seems simple enough, right? But it could make your life so, so much easier—and keep you healthier in the air. Just make sure you’re not making these airport mistakes before your next flight.

Brooke Nelson
Brooke Nelson is a researcher at PBS FRONTLINE in Boston, Massachusetts, and writes regularly about travel, health, and culture news for Reader’s Digest. Previously she was a staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her articles have also appeared on MSN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance, among other sites. She earned a BA in international relations from Hendrix College. Follow her on Twitter @BrookeTNelson.