Taking a Road Trip This Summer? 5 Stretches to Help Manage Stiffness After Long Car Rides

Summer vacation usually means a road trip or two.  While this is super fun, it can also leave us stiff and sore.  Try these stretches after a long day on the road.

Neck rolls

Begin in a comfortable seated position with upright posture. Allow your chin to drop down to your chest without rounding your shoulders forward.  From there, rotate your head so your left ear moves toward your left shoulder, then look up toward the ceiling, and continue rotating your head in a circle to bring your right ear towards your right shoulder.   Finish the circle by bringing your chin back to your chest.

Tip: to avoid crunching in the back of your neck, think about stretching your head up and away from your shoulders, like a turtle sticking its head out of its shell.

Upper Trap Stretch

Begin sitting in a comfortable seated position with upright posture. Without moving your shoulders, let your left ear drop sideways toward your left shoulder.  You should feel a stretch along the right side of your neck.  To increase this, you can sit on your right hand, or use your left hand to pull your head further to the left.   Hold this position for 30 seconds, then perform on the opposite side.

Hamstring stretch

Begin sitting in a comfortable seated position with upright posture. Scoot toward the edge of your chair so that just your sitting bones are at the edge of the seat.  Keep your left foot resting flat on the floor with your knee bent to about 90 degrees.  Extend your right leg so that your knee is straight, your heel is resting on the floor, and your toes point up toward the ceiling.   Bend forward and slide your hands down your right leg toward your toes until you feel a stretch in the back of the right leg.  Hold this position for 30 seconds, then perform on the opposite side.

Cat Cow

Begin on your hands and knees with your hands directly underneath your shoulders, and your knees directly underneath your hips. While keeping your elbows straight, let your belly drop toward the ground, and look toward the wall in front of you.  While doing this, your back will arch and your tailbone will tilt up toward the ceiling.   Then, arch your back in the opposite direction, moving your spine toward the ceiling.   While doing this, you can look back toward your thighs, and your tailbone should point down toward the floor.

Tip: If you have wrist or knee pain, you can place a towel or blanket under them to make it more comfortable.  You can also modify this exercise to perform sitting in a chair with your hands resting on your thighs and moving your spine forward and backward.

Lunge

Begin in a standing position next to something sturdy like a countertop. Hold onto the countertop with your right hand, and take a big step forward with your right foot.  Keep your right foot flat with your toes pointing forward.   Lift your left heel off the ground so you are resting on the ball of your left foot.  Then, bend your right knee so that it is directly over your right ankle.  You should feel a stretch in the front of your left hip.  Hold this position for 30 seconds, then perform on the opposite side.

Let our expert physical therapists at Lifeline Physical Therapy put together an individualized stretching program for you before your next big trip!

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