I spent a lot of hours in a car this weekend and my body is not very happy with me as a result.
Whenever I finish up a long car ride, I make an effort to move around as much as I can — why would I want to go from sitting in a car directly to sitting on a couch? I like to go for a walk if possible or at least get in some mobility work to loosen up and minimize any aches or pains I might be feeling.
I put together this little mobility routine after I got home from my trip this weekend and I definitely recommend trying it out after your next car ride or flight.
You could also do it after a long day of sitting at the office, or you could do it because you just feel like doing some mobility work — the choice is yours!
Here’s a breakdown of the moves for you:
Deep Squat I and T Stretches
These stretches are great for opening up the upper back and chest. If you just spent the last several hours slouching in a car seat or on a plane, these will feel really good. The deep squat also helps to open up the hips and ankles, too.
If you can’t sit in a deep squat and stay upright to do these stretches, go ahead and modify by kneeling, sitting on the floor, or standing (if you’ve been sitting for a long time, standing is probably going to be the best option for you).
Focus on keeping your chest lifted and your spine straight. Keep your thumbs facing up toward the ceiling, too.
Do at least eight of these stretches (one “I” stretch plus one “T” stretch equals one repetition).
Deep Squat Lateral Stretches
Stay in the deep squat position (or sit, stand, or kneel if necessary) and open your arms up to form a diagonal line. This stretch is also great for opening up the chest, and it loosens the torso and upper back as well.
Do eight stretches on each side.
Overhead Hip Hinges
I really like adding an overhead stretch to this exercise. It provides additional feedback to help you keep your torso straight, and it helps to further improve your shoulder mobility, something with which a lot of people who sit for long periods of time tend to struggle.
Do eight stretches.
Active Lunge Stretches
After sitting in a car, at a desk, or on a plane for hours at a time, there’s a good chance your hip flexors are going to be pretty tight.
Chronically tight hip flexors can lead to lower back pain and lower-crossed syndrome (excessive lower back arch). Active lunges help to loosen up your hip flexors and retrain your muscles to hold you up in the proper position.
Start in a low lunge position with your right knee bent in front of you and your left knee on the ground behind you. Press into the floor with your right foot and tuck your hips under slightly. You’ll feel a stretch in your left hip flexor.
Hold this position for a second, then release and repeat about eight times before switching sides.
Supine Scorpion Stretches
These help to stretch out tight glutes and are good for those who also have tight upper backs. Lie flat on the floor while doing these and make sure your shoulders stay connected at all times.
It’s okay if your working leg doesn’t reach all the way to the floor — just reach as far as you can while still keeping your shoulders on the ground.
Perform eight repetitions on each side.
Post-Long Car Ride Mobility Video
Here’s a video showing each exercise, too, in case you want to follow along after next car ride:
If you try this out, let me know how it goes! I hope it helps you feel a little less achy after traveling or sitting for an extended time period!