October 23, 2016 ultra.mel.jon@gmail.com

Amazing Stretches For Road Trips

We’ve all experienced that feeling of getting out of the car after a long day of driving and stretching out from toes to fingers. It’s one of the few drawbacks to exciting road trips. Whether it’s driving to your favourite music festival, exploring a new country, or even making the trip home to visit family, everyone has reasons for opting for a long haul in the car, rather than flying. Mixing a bit of our knowledge from all our yoga teacher trainings, our ongoing recovery practice we use to combat tight and stiff muscles from ultra marathon training, and our every growing list of road trip experiences, we’ve put together our top 3 stretches for road trips that will help you stay loose and mobile even after a long drive.

1) Elevated pigeon

Pigeon pose is a miracle yoga pose that helps stretch out your piraformis and your glutes, which can both get very tight after sitting for hours on end in ergonomically brutal car seats. The hard part is you rarely ever feel like getting down onto the floor in your hotel or after you just get in the door, to crank out a few useful stretches. This is why we like the elevated pigeon position (And yes, there may be a thousand other terms for it, but whatever). It can be done on a chair, a lower table, even the hood/trunk of your car if you want to stretch at a pit stop, but we find it incredibly easy to simply use the side of your bed as you get ready to go to sleep.
 stretches for road trips

How to get into it?

Pop one leg up onto the side of your bed (or chair or table) and cross your leg in front of your body so that your shin is facing in front of you. (See picture) Keep your back foot planted on the ground and slide it back as far as is
comfortable to you, eventually working your way to having the back leg locked out straight. To make the stretch less intense, move your front heel in towards your hips, and to make it more intense, slide the foot away from your hips until eventually your shin will be parallel with the edge your propping your leg on.
travel stretches

2) Wall Quad Stretch:

This stretch will work wonders on your quads and hip flexors, which have become an infamously tight muscle chain in the first world where sitting is everywhere. Keeping these muscles lengthened will help your hips stay relaxed and level, which will lead to good posture, reducing hip and back pains.
deep quad stretches

How to get into it? 

Find an empty space on a wall or in front of a chair/couch (if you know your quads are super tight the ladder tends to be a little gentler).  Start on your hands and knees and slide back towards the wall as close as you can.  Draw your right heel up to your butt and slide the right knee closer to the wall (eventually we want the knee touching the wall, but start about 6 inches away and move closer from there).  Next step, step your left foot forward so its flat on the floor just outside your left hand. (ps. don’t worry we aren’t graceful making that move either;))  You might be feeling this in your quad or hip already, if so take some time here to let things lengthen.  If you want a little more then bring your hands onto your left knee and slowly rise the chest to end up in a lunge looking position.
yoga for hips

3) Shoulder Opener:

A lot of people have incredibly tight shoulders. This mostly stems from two things in our modern day lifestyles, i) we hunch a lot while sitting and even standing, ii) we workout our shoulders unevenly, creating an imbalance in the interior and posterior muscles. Now whether you have tight shoulders or not in everyday life, if you sit in a car seat for any period of time, its a good chance you won’t be sitting in an “optimal” position to keep your shoulders neutral. The trendy bucket seat designs almost force us to collapse into them and roll our shoulders slightly forward. So getting a bit of shoulder opening will help counteract this.
shoulder opener poses

How to do it? 

You can luckily do this one during a rest stop along the trip, at a hotel between driving days, or at home after a long drive. If you have a wall available, this will be easiest, as you can adjust to your own height, but if your in a parking lot, you can often times use the side of your car. Prop your hands up on a solid surface (wall or side of car) high enough so that your arms are about at a 45 degree angle when standing upright. Now hinge at the hips and drop your head between your arms. Slowly relax the shoulders, and work the crown of your head towards the surface your leaning up against. If your head touches no problem, then move your hands down the wall and go deeper. Still nothing, your shoulders are probably fine!
With each one of these stretches for road trips, aim to hold each one for 2-3 minutes if time allows. So with that in mind don’t force yourself into the stretch. Simply relax into them and let your muscles release. These are amazing stretches for keeping you loose and mobile during long road trips, but at the same time can be super helpful to anyone who drives a lot in their day to day life. If you have any others that you find beneficial during long drives, then please share in the comments so everyone can try them out.
Are you a runner and want to increase mobility/flexibility? Be sure to read our Yoga Poses for Runners!

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