After the long and enforced, stay-at-home vacation thrust onto us by the pandemic, it’s a relief to have some real vacation time! These days, many prefer road trips over mass transport services. Hardly surprising to see many patients complaining of aches and pains after long hours of car travel!
Stress and discomfort while driving is often caused by poor posture due to seat height, seat angle, backrest angle, steering wheel, and armrest positioning. It is important to achieve proper ergonomics while seated in the car. Make small adjustments to your driving posture every 30-60 minutes in addition to stretching, when halted at the lights. Try these driving techniques to help reduce joint stiffness and pain:
To Decrease The Amount Of Forward Bending: Raise the seat until your hips and knees are aligned.
To Reduce Disc Pressure In Your Lower Back: Set the backrest recline to an angle of 100-110 degrees.
To Reduce Strain On The Neck, Shoulders, And Upper Back: Lower the steering wheel and move it towards you
Position The Seat: So that you can use the foot pedals without moving from the backrest.
A long drive can be tiring for your body – a few stretches help ease the stress. It goes without saying – DO NOT PERFORM ANY PHYSICAL EXERCISES WHILE DRIVING A CAR – wait until the vehicle is stopped at the lights. Use these movements to work off a little energy, pass the time, and tone those muscles:
Seat Pushes and Triceps Pushes: If you’re driving, seat pushes can help exercise your triceps. Hold the steering wheel at 10 and 2, gripping tightly with your elbows loose and bent. Straighten your elbows and push against the steering wheel, pushing your back into the seat. If you’re a passenger, you can also exercise the triceps with triceps pushes. Sit-up straight with your feet flat on the floor. Position your hands on the sides of your hips, flat on the seat with your elbows bent. Straighten your elbows to lift your butt up off the seat. Repeat for a desired number of reps. Please don’t forget to only exercise when the car is stopped and abide by all traffic laws.
Seated Side Bend: Sit tall, with your hands behind your head and your fingers clasped. While keeping your spine straight, slowly bend to the right. The more you bend, the deeper the stretch on your side. Hold for a short increment of time. Coming back into a neutral position, switch to the left side. Repeat for a desired number of sets.
Calf Raises: Position both feet flat on the floor. Raise your heels high, putting your weight in the balls of your feet while contracting your calves. Rock back on your heels to stretch the shins. To increase difficulty, use a tennis ball under the ball of the foot for a greater range of motion. Repeat for a desired number of reps.
QUICK EXERCISES AT PIT STOPS…
Sitting for long periods of time can cause joint stiffness, tight muscles, and body-aches. It’s important to stimulate blood circulation and activate your muscles during pit stops. In just a few short stops, you can have a near to full workout under your belts!
Lunges: Stand tall with feet hip-width apart. While engaging your core, step forward with your right leg. Start to shift your weight forward so the heel hits the floor. Lower your body until the right thigh is parallel to the floor. If mobility allows, lightly tap the left knee to the floor while keeping weight on the right heel. Press into the right heel to come back up in a starting position. Switch to the opposite side and repeat for a desired number of reps.
Bumper Push-Ups: Place your hands shoulder distance apart on the car’s bumper and step your feet back into an elevated plank. Bend your elbows 90 degrees as you lower your chest. Exhale as you push away from the car. Repeat for a desired number of reps.
Rear Enders: With your chest lifted and core engaged, lift your knees high to tap your toe to the bumper of your car. Move quickly, alternating each leg. Keep tapping your toe to the bumper for a short increment of time. Repeat for a desired number of sets.
Traveling can be a good excuse to abandon your daily workout routine. However, a vacation can be a great opportunity to exercise! Remind yourself to maintain your cardio endurance while having fun by engaging in a variety of activities that offer a great workout, without feeling like exercise. These activities include walking on the beach, volleyball, swimming, bike riding, golf, surfboarding, and hiking. Instead of using the elevator in the hotel, try using the stairs and avoid using a luggage cart when you pull up to the hotel lobby.
To strengthen the core, you can follow these exercises right in the hotel room!
Bicycle Crunches: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed against the mat. Cradle your hands behind your head with elbows out of your peripheral vision. Position your legs at the tabletop position, ankles in line with knees. Tighten your abdomen and lift your head so that your shoulders are hovering off the ground. Straighten the right leg while turning the upper body left. Bring your right elbow towards your left knee. Twist at the ribs, leading with your shoulder and not your elbow. Switch to the opposite side for a full rep count
Planks: Start on the floor on your hands and knees. Position your hands directly under your shoulders. Step your feet back, one at a time, with feet hip-distance apart. Maintain a straight line from heels through the top of your head, looking down at the floor. Tighten your abs, quads, glutes, and hold for a small increment of time. Repeat for a desired number of sets.
Boat Pose: Sit upright with a long, tall spine and bring your knees into your chest with your toes lightly touching the floor. Keeping length in your spine with your chest lifted, lean back and engage your core muscles. Extend your arms in front of your chest and extend your legs outward and upward. Hold this position for a short increment of time. Release and repeat for a desired number of reps.
Triceps Dips: With your back facing the chair, grip your hands on the front edges of the chair. Hovering in front of the seat, bend your legs with thighs parallel to the floor. With feet planted flat on the floor, straighten your arms. Lower your body toward the floor until your arms form 90-degree angles. Engage your triceps to press back to the starting position. Repeat for a desired number of reps.
Hours on the road don’t have to affect your workout routine or rehab exercises. Giving some time to exercise will make your trip more fun, giving you a boost of energy and helping you feel better as you do some good for your body. Safe travels!