When the kids are out of school and the summer is in full swing, many of us will find ourselves taking road trips or maybe long daytrips to various destinations. While newer cars have made slight accommodations for adjusting and increasing comfort and support of the back and legs, sitting for long periods of time anywhere is not ideal for the human body.
Sitting in a car for long periods of time can cause lower back pain, cut off circulation to the legs and feet, slow your metabolism, and compromise the posture of your shoulders, back, and spine.
Many people will feel exhausted after long road trips and might wonder, “Why am I so tired, I haven’t done anything today except sit and drive?” Inactivity can cause full body fatigue, especially if you have to concentrate on the road. Constant vibrations can cause muscles to contract and hold harder, thus tiring out a driver or passenger.
Stretching on Your Long Road Trip
It is advised to take a stretching and walking break every two hours during long drives. When you stop to take a break, walk around, jump, and move your body to get blood moving back to areas that have been otherwise inactive and under pressure. Here are some great, basic stretches that we recommend on your long trips:
While standing lift your heel up to a surface higher than the ground such as a curb, parking block, or a vehicle bumper. Keeping the raised leg straight, gently lean reach towards the toes. Be sure not to arch your back to far forward, reach with the torso moving forward, not scrunching over to meet your toes. Hold this position for 10 controlled breaths and repeat for the opposite leg.
Crossed Leg Hip Stretch
Sitting down outside the vehicle or leaning upon it, pull one knee upward with the opposite hand toward the opposite shoulder. You will feel the stretch in the hip and buttock. Hold this for 10 steady breaths and switch the other side.
Adductor Inner Thigh Stretch
While holding onto a stable surface, stand with your feet past your hips and lean with your leg to one side keep the opposite leg as straight as possible. You will begin to feel a stretch on the inside of the straightened leg. Hold this position to one side for 10 calm, normal breaths and repeat the process for the opposite leg.
While holding onto a sturdy surface, lift your heel upwards towards the back of the thigh, gripping your ankle with the same side hand. Hold your heel behind your thigh for 10 long breaths feeling the stretch in the quadricep muscles of the upper from part of the leg.
Additional advice when taking a long drive
- Stay hydrated. Hydration will keep your mind sharp and concentrated while reducing fatigue and sluggishness. Regular drinking will promote rest stops for stretching and “relief.”
- Wear compression socks and hose to help promote blood flood to the legs and feet.
- Switch driving responsibilities with someone to reduce the risk of tiredness and boredom.
- Rotate your neck and head carefully while concentrating on the road to help loosen neck and shoulder muscles.
- Prevent sun burn and “Trucker’s Tan” by applying sunblock to your skin; paying attention to the side that stays in the sunlight.
- Pack healthy snacks, not rest stop and gas station food.
- Be mindful of sleepiness or fatigue. Getting out for a walk and stretch or even pulling over somewhere safe and taking a nap can help keep you rested and alert.