SOS Stretches are designed to be done in the moment—when you need them most. These super quick routines will relieve tension and tightness, and ease sore muscles from whatever activity you’re taking part in. In today’s break from a long car ride routine, you’ll be
- Stretching your: Back, chest, neck, shoulders, hip flexors, and hamstrings.
- You can do this: Wearing whatever clothes and shoes you’re traveling in, and at any location along your route—think a rest stop or a gas station parking lot. You’ll be standing for all of these stretches, so you don’t need a ton of room.
Taking a long car trip may help you avoid the chaos and stress of an airport, but it does come with a potential downside: Extended car rides can certainly take a toll on your body.
Specifically, your hip flexors and hamstrings can tighten up from being locked in the same position for so long, and your chest, back, neck, and shoulders may ache due to poor posture, Candace Harding, DPT, an integrative physical therapist and registered yoga teacher in Arlington, tells SELF.
Moreover, “whenever we just sit in the car for a long period of time, we’re just not getting as much lubrication to the muscles and the joints,” Harding says. And that lack of lubrication can cause a feeling of overall stiffness in our bodies, since “dry things don’t move well,” Harding explains. She gives the example of a creaky door with rusty hinges. “You oil it and it moves better,” she says. The same is true for your muscles—and that lubrication comes from movement.
The good news is, taking a few minutes to hop out of your car and stretch dynamically can help you feel better. With stretching, Harding explains,“you’re just giving the muscle a chance to lengthen back out and remember that it’s possible to be in a different position.” And by focusing on mobility-based stretches—basically, stretches where you’re moving in and out of a pose instead of just holding one position—you can help hydrate tissues and boost blood flow, she adds.
With that in mind, Harding created the following four-move stretch routine that you can do to break up a long car ride and provide some sweet relief. Trust us, you’ll want to bookmark this quick yet effective sequence for your next extended car ride.
Do each move for the prescribed number of reps listed below. Harding designed the sequence to work your body from top to bottom, but you can do these moves in any order. Also, if some stretches feel better than others, feel free to pick and choose—you don’t have to do all four. You’ll reap benefits from doing the sequence just one time, but if it feels good and you’d like to repeat it, then go for it, says Harding.
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