fitness · holidays

Stretching it out after a long holiday drive

I’m visiting my family for the holidays, and I just drove 16.5 hours to get there (over 2 days, but still). That’s a lot of driving, even though I love my car (2021 Honda Civic EX Hatchback, Aegean Blue). It was also a lot of podcasts; I estimate about 12 hours’ worth. If you have any questions about economic policy, the future of technology, or global public health, feel free to ask me… 🙂

Now that I’m here, it’s time to unwind, but also to stretch… everything. Sitting in a car, driving for that long, in this (or really any) body requires some attention. I’ve got regular yoga stretches I know to do (I brought my mat with me– a perk of driving is not having to pack light), and there are family dogs here to walk.

Bailey, a Golden Retriever, and his BFF Kiwi, a Yorkshire Terrier.
Bailey, a Golden Retriever, and his BFF Kiwi, a Yorkshire Terrier.

However, I thought there might be some online information about post-car-ride stretches. I was correct. Here are a few that I liked, along with some urls for your edification.

On the Go RV’ing site, there are a bunch of exercises to do (using your RV) after a long day of driving/sitting. My favorite is this one:

Forward lunge kickwalk: begin with your left leg lunged forwards and your hands behind your head. Smoothly shift your weight onto the left leg as you lift your right leg and kick it forward before placing it down in a right-leg forward lunge. Continue to repeat taking alternating lunge steps forward, and kicking your leg before setting it down. Do 12 steps. Do this exercise slowly.

A woman bending front knee, then popping up and pointing other leg out front, with arms up behind head, keeping the bright yellow RV on her left.

I think I like it so much because it reminds me of this bit by Monty Python on the ministry of silly walks:

Sometimes you can’t improve on the classics.

Moving on…

Some very sensible and focused post-driving exercises recommended by the Skoda automobile company are:

  • leg swings (holding onto a chair or wall); forward, backward, and to the sides
  • deep squats
  • bridge pose (very good for glutes, as you know)
  • quad stretches

I’m definitely doing these as soon as I finish this blog post (and before taking the dogs on their neighborhood constitutional).

We shouldn’t forget the upper body after driving, as shoulders, head and neck get creaky from being in one position for so long. Here’s a nice shoulder stretch:

Stand with one arm stretched out against the frame of your car door or a post. Twist your torso gently in opposition until you feel a stretch across your chest muscles. Take a few deep, slow breaths. Play around with the angle of your arm (higher or lower) to determine which areas of your chest need the stretch the most. Repeat on the other side.

A woman stretching her right shoulder using a pole behind her.
A woman stretching her right shoulder using a pole behind her.

You can also do a standard head and neck stretch, illustrated here:

A woman placing her left hand on the right side of her head, allowing the head to move gently to the left.

After a long semester and a long drive, I will happily do these exercises. But I’m also looking forward to more of this kind of stretching out as well.

Stretching out in front of a fire, coffee in hand and book in lap. Toe stretching intermittently.

Readers, what sort of stretches feel really good to you after traveling? I’d love to hear from you.