The dog days of summer should be spent exploring the states—setting out on epic roads trips and long-weekend trips. And while the drive is half the journey (and the fun), it can also be a little crippling.
Sitting for prolonged periods of time can leave our joints stiff, muscles tight, and bodies achy. Fortunately for everyone, there are some simple stretches and mobility drills to help get you through it all pain-free.
Try these six stretches the next time you find yourself in the car for a long commute or trip—all courtesy of David Reavy, P.T., performance therapy expert and founder of React Physical Therapy and Franco Calabrese, P.T.
It’s important to remember these stretches are not meant to cause or worsen any pain you may be experiencing, so if you’ve got acute pain, seek professional help.
The Best Stretches to Do in the Car on a Road Trip
1. Chest Stretch
How to do it: In a seated position, cross your arms over your chest and give yourself a hug. Next, relax your arms, drive your shoulders back and squeeze them together. This will cause your chest to expand. Be sure not to overextend your lower back (squeeze your abdominals to help). Complete 10-15 reps.
2. Neck Stretch
How to do it: Bring your chin to your chest and let it hang for 10 seconds. To increase the stretch, place the palm of your hand on the top of your head and pull down. To stretch the side of your neck, bring your ear to your shoulder (avoid shrugging), and hold for 10 seconds. To increase the stretch, place the palm of your hand on the opposite side of your head and pull toward the opposite shoulder. Repeat on the opposite side.
3. Groin Stretch
How to do it: In a seated position, cross one leg over the other, resting your ankle on top of the opposite knee. You can add pressure to the crossed leg’s knee and push it toward the ground. Perform 10 reps, then repeat on the opposite leg.
The Best Stretches to Do at a Pitstop on a Road Trip
1. Low Back Stretch
How to do it: From a standing position, reach down and try to touch your toes. Let gravity guide you down, and let your arms hang for 10 seconds. Return to the standing position by squeezing your glutes and slowly coming up one vertebra at a time. Perform 10-15 reps.
2. Quad/Hip Flexor Stretch
How to do it: Use the car door as support for your upper body. Grab the front of your ankle and bring your heel to your butt pulling your leg back. Try to stand tall and squeeze the glute on your standing leg for extra support. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch.
3. Calf Stretch
How to do it: Place both arms on the car and position your body so you’re at a 45-degree angle leaning forward. As you bend one knee, drive your opposite heel to the ground as you lean forward to achieve a calf stretch. Hold for 10 seconds and alternate legs. Repeat this 5 times on each leg.