Summer is in full swing, and for many of us, summer means road trips! While there's nothing better than the thrill of the open road, there's not much worse than the stiff back and numb rear end that accompany hours of driving.
My family and I just returned from an 11-day tour of Germany, Italy and France. Five people crammed into one small car... yikes! Great memories were made, but there were plenty of moments when physical (and mental) tension needed to be released. Enter what I like to call "car-cercises."
The following seated exercises are a great way to keep back pain at bay, to increase circulation to the muscles of your legs and core, and to maintain some semblance of an exercise program while you're on the road. All can be done with your seatbelt on. Of course, they're only meant for the passengers — not the driver!
1. Seated crunch twists.
Gently pull your abdominal muscles in toward your spine. Put your hands behind your head. Exhale as you bring opposite elbow to knee. Sit tall between sides. Complete 10 crunch twists on each side.
2. Water bottle-resisted hip adduction.
Place a hard plastic or metal water bottle between your legs. Gently engage your pelvic floor muscles and then squeeze your legs together, pressing against the water bottle. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then release completely. Repeat 10 times.
3. Arm-resisted hip abduction.
Lean forward and wrap your arms around your legs. Clasp your hands together. Keep your hands clasped together as you push your knees outward, pressing into your arms. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then release completely. Repeat 10 times.
4. Hip lifts.
Place your hands on the roof of the car (as a modification, you can also place your hands on the seat to assist with this exercise). Gently engage the muscles of your core, including your buttocks, pelvic floor, and deep abdominal muscles. Press down into your heels and exhale as you lift your hips up off the seat. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then return your hips to the seat and release completely. Repeat 5 times.
5. Seated heart circles.
This one feels great and is so good for your spine. Place your hands on your knees and circle your ribcage to the left 5 times, and then to the right 5 times. Think of using your heart to draw a circle on the seat beneath you.
Once you arrive at your destination, you might want to give my "Quick + Quiet Hotel Room Workout" a try, or just soak up the sun and enjoy a little R&R. Happy, healthy travels!