Suffer from a sore neck or back while driving? These simple stretches can prevent stiffness on long journeys this summer.
At SIXT, we teamed up with yoga experts to lend their expert advice on how to look after your body on road trips and ensure you’re experiencing the most comfortable journey.
Five yoga poses to practise on long car journeys
Whether it’s a bank holiday weekend, the drive back to university, festival season or the holidays, drivers all over the UK sit behind their wheels for multiple hours. Incorrect posture, positioning, and immobility on long periods of driving can lead to neck strains, foot cramps, tennis elbow, shoulder and knee pains.
The key areas for focus are the neck, hips, spine and – for drivers – wrists. The angle of your seat back should be a little greater than a perpendicular 90 degrees. At 100 to 110 degrees, the seat will put the least pressure on your back.
For a comfortable and safe journey, make sure the seat height is adjusted so your hips are at least as high up as your knees. Adjust the seat forwards so you can reach and completely depress all the foot pedals without your back moving away from the back of the seat whilst also keeping a small bend in your knees of at least 20-30 degrees.
Yoga teachers, Eloise Skinner and Daisy Proctor advise on the simple poses you can practise, behind the wheel and before embarking on your next car journey.
Perfect for outside of the car or when stopping at the service station, a forward fold is great for calming the mind and deeply stretching and lengthening the hamstrings and calves.
Stand tall, then exhale as you bend forward at the hips, lengthening the front of your torso. Bend your elbows and hold on to each elbow with the opposite hand. Let the crown of your head hang down. Keep a slight bend in your knees. Breathe and stay here for a few moments. To release, place your hands on your hips. Draw down through your tailbone and keep your back flat as you inhale and return to stand.
Take your time to unravel, starting with your tailbone, then your lower back, mid-back, upper back and neck. When you get to the top, take a few slow rolls of your shoulders up, back, down and round.
Perfect for both the passenger and the driver, neck rolls relieve tightness and soreness in the neck.
Brace your core and pull your shoulders down and back. Tip your head gently to the right side, lowering your ear toward your right shoulder. Hold the stretch there. Roll your head gently forward, dropping your chin toward your chest. Hold. Then finish with the left side.
Repeat an equal number on both sides.
Modified seated cat and cow
To release tension of the neck, spine, shoulders and back a modified seated cat and cow can work wonders.
Inhale deeply while curving your lower back and bringing your head up, tilting your pelvis up like a “cow.” Exhale deeply and bring your abdomen in, arching your spine and bringing your head and pelvis down like a “cat.” Repeat several times.
Eagle pose arms
If you’re a passenger on the journey, this stretch is great for targeting the upper back.
Reach both arms out in front of you and wrap your left arm over your right, crossing the left elbow over the right upper arm. Place the back of hands or palms together. If this is too much for you, give yourself a hug, hands to shoulders.
For wrists, try gentle rotations in small circles – one way for a few rotations, then reverse. You can also try a supported stretch – use one hand to gently bend back the palm of your other hand until you feel the stretch in your wrist. Repeat on both sides.