If you spend much time in the car—on the regular or on a road trip—chances are you feel it in your neck, shoulders, hips, and hooo boy in your back. Sitting in one position in a car (or anywhere, really) will stiffen your back muscles, sometimes painfully, and can even lead to muscle spasm.
Drivers and passengers need to know this essential stretch routine for loosening jammed-up muscles and joints after stepping out of the car—whether you just finished a long haul, a daily commute, or are the lucky chauffeur for some very busy kids.
Tips for taking the pain out of the drive
- First things first: Your mirrors aren’t the only thing you should check before you hit the road. Take the time to carefully adjust the seat position and pay close attention to how you feel. An ignorable discomfort at the outset can turn into raging pain later.
- Points for posture: As with all seated endeavors, you should be sitting up straight with your knees at a right angle (a cushion many help you achieve this) and your feet squarely on the floor. Of course, placing both feet on the floor is impossible while driving, unless you’re in cruise control, so find opportunities—such as while idling or parked—to place your feet next to each other and realign your low back and hips whenever possible. Also, keep your chin pulled in so your head sits straight on top of your spine, not slumped forward.
- Honor thy lumbar: If your seat back doesn’t comfortably match the curvature of your mid-to-low back, place a pillow behind you to help prevent your back from slumping into a C shape.
- Take breaks—please! A 15-minute break for every 2 hours driving is ideal. If you’re on a long trip, plan your stops ahead so they’re factored into your schedule. Mom on the go? Find opportunities to get out of the car and move around between dropping off, picking up, and everything else on your to-do list. Movement stimulates circulation, which brings nutrients and oxygen to your lower back.
- Get fidgety: Any movement at all that’s safe to do while in the car will help ward off stiffness and pain, whether you’re bouncing your knee to music or stretching your arms at a stoplight. Aim for at least 10 seconds of movement or stretching every 15 to 20 minutes—or even just shifting your position slightly.
Happy trails to you, road warrior!
Demi Remick is a YoungArts Gold winner, Dance Magazine’s Top-25-To-Watch and a Capezio Athlete. Demi tours worldwide as the tap dance soloist with Postmodern Jukebox, at venues like the Sydney Opera House and performs as the featured soloist at Company XIV in Brooklyn. Demi has danced for Caleb Teicher & Co, Dorrance Dance, Jason Samuels Smith, Bill T. Jones, and Monica Bill Barnes. Demi teaches at Broadway Dance Center, has a 200hr Yoga Certification, is an ACE-certified Personal Trainer, and earned her BFA in Dance from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance.
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