Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Keeping Limber on the Road

When embarking on a road trip, you tend to think of the usual things...do I have enough snacks, first aid kit, activities for the kids, the right playlist, an audiobook or two (these are CRITICAL for us!), and all of that jazz, there's one thing we tend to take for granted:

We are notorious for getting tunnel vision and just pushing through as long as possible because we don't want to lose time pulling over at rest stops.  But rest stops are there for a reason because even if you don't rest, you need to pee when you have the chance and more importantly stretch!  We are so guilty of having the best intentions to stop, say we're going to and then we just don't.  We always pay for it.  ALWAYS.  We always need an arsenal of tools at our disposal to help with tight hips, shins, and calves from being in the same position for 5, 8, or 13 hour stretches on the road.  These are the things that help us the most:

The Stick rolls out tight shins, especially for the driver. The spiky ball is great for rolling your arches especially if you have plantar fasciitis but also to keep that driving foot (or resting foot) from getting all crampy.  The massage tool gets into those weird knots you didn't know you had until its too late.  That manual massage ball is perfect for lower back pain and believe me when you're sitting there for hours on end, your back starts to tweak, yo!

But this time we were smart about it and tried to be more proactive by scheduling stops every 1 1/2 to 2 hours to purposely stretch.   I highly recommend the following exercises to keep you limber on the road.

Touch Your Toes-  With your feet shoulder width apart, bend forward and reach toward your toes until you feel a slight stretch, not pain, in your hamstrings and lower back.  Hold for no longer than 30 seconds.

Leaning Hamstring Stretch:  With the car door open facing the inside, put one foot on the edge of the car door opening and lean in until you feel a good stretch on the back of your thigh.  Hold for about 30 seconds then switch legs.

Inner Thigh/Groin Stretch:  With the car door open facing forward toward the hood, put your left foot on the edge of the car door opening with your other leg about 1' from the car.  Squat down slowly until you feel a good stretch on your inner thigh and slightly into your groin.  Hold for about 30 seconds then switch legs.  Sitting in the same position without stretching these muscles leaves you open to cramping and I can attest cramping in that area sucks rocks.

IT Band Stretch:  Stand with your feet together.  Cross your left ankle over your right ankle.  Bend your knees slightly as you hinge forward toward your feet.  Reach toward the ground going only as far as is comfortable for you.  Hold for 20-30 seconds then repeat with the opposite leg.

Soleus Stretch-  Stand facing the hood of the car with your feet 6-12 inches away. Place your hands on the hood (or side of the roof of the car) at shoulder height. Take a big step back with one leg. Bend the front knee. Then slowly bend your back knee, and reach your heel toward the ground. Hold for 10-20 seconds and repeat on the other leg.  You can gently lower your head toward your chest as you do this for a bonus neck and upper back stretch.

Repeat every two hours.

This entire routine takes 3 minutes and 30 seconds and you have the potential to be back on the road again, kink-free!  The time one of you runs in to wee while the other does this and vice versa, you can be on the road again in 7 minutes at the longest.  (Unless you're dropping wolf bait then I can't help you there but as they say, better out than in.)

Be smarter than we usually are...stay limber y'all!  Your muscles will thank you for it!

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