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Nimble Nomads: Stretches for Pain-Free Road Trips

Nimble Nomads: Stretches for Pain-Free Road Trips

I recently road tripped from North Carolina to California and was quickly reminded that traveling is not for the faint of heart. It was a wonderful experience with so many memories, but my body felt worn down from all the traveling. That is why I decided to compile a list of helpful stretches that you can do while at a pit stop on the road to help address a few common issues. So, when stopping for gas or the restroom, try some of these simple tips next time you are on the road.

Hip Flexors & Calves

Staying in a seated position for extended periods of time shortens two large muscle groups in the legs. The hamstrings and the hip flexors.

Hip Flexor Stretch

  • Stand with one leg in front of the other and lower your hips toward the ground similar to a lunge.
  • Bend your back knee and shift your weight forward until you feel a gentle stretch at the front side of your hip.
  • Hold 30-60 seconds and repeat.

Hamstring Stretch

  • Rest your foot on a step or curb in front of you with the knee straight and the toe pointed up.
  • Straighten your back, think tall, and hinge forward at the hips until you feel a gentle stretch in the back side of your thigh.
  • Hold 30-60 seconds and repeat.

Posture

Unless you travel with perfect upper body posture (I certainly do not!) you may also feel aching in your neck or back. We often sit in a position with our shoulders rounded and our heads forward. Here is a great stretch to address both of those issues:

Posture Stretch

  • Rest one hand in your other hand and then place your hands behind your head.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your hands back so they are floating about an inch away from the back of your head.
  • Attempt to pull your face back toward your hands adjusting your hands so you maintain the gap.
  • Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat

Increase Circulation

Another effect of stagnantly sitting for so long is that our blood can pool in our lower legs. Calf raises are a great activity to increase blood flow back to the heart.

Calf Raises

  • Stand next to something you can place a hand on for balance.
  • Raise up onto your tip toes and slowly lower back down.
  • To advance this, try one leg at a time.
  • Complete 20 repetitions, rest and repeat.

These are just a few simple stretches and exercises that may make a difference during your traveling. Try to take rest breaks as much as you can.

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Brittany Pace, PT, DPT
In her free time, Brittany enjoys balancing her time between her family, friends, and active pursuits. She particularly enjoys hiking, running, basketball, soccer, and trying new things.
Brittany Pace, PT, DPT

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