Road Trips? How to Drive and Arrive in Good Health
By Sara Butler
Like most people, you probably spend a fair amount of time dreaming about your next vacation. Sure, you may not have a date in mind, but you have a destination -- and sometimes that’s all you need as you wait for spring to arrive.
At The Joint Chiropractic, we think you can never be too prepared for your next epic road trip. That’s why we’ve put together a few tips to help you have the healthiest road trip ever so you can arrive at the destination you’ve been dreaming of feeling great and ready to explore.
Being in a car in one position for hours on end is not great for your body. That’s why you need to take steps to ensure that you’re caring for your body on the way to your destination. This is easily achieved by:
- Drinking water - Staying hydrated is one of the easiest things you can do to care for your body on a road trip. Proper hydration helps the body to fight stiffness and pain, plus it helps the joints to stay lubricated and reduce muscle cramps. It’ll aid in your recovery later, too, once you reach your destination.
- Bringing snacks - You may be tempted to stop by a drive-thru off the highway for sustenance, but it’s really a better idea to bring along some healthy snacks. Fast food is generally full of added sugars, which may work for a quick burst of energy but won’t sustain you for the long haul. Instead, bring snacks along that will provide sustained energy such as fruit, nuts, and cut-up vegetables.
- Taking breaks - It may be appealing to get where you’re going as fast as you can, but it’s crucial that you take breaks at least every two hours to get out of the car and walk around a bit. This will help to keep your body flexible and has the added benefit of making you less tired along the way. If you stay hydrated, you’ll probably need a break or two.
Practice Good Posture
Practicing good posture in your car is also crucial to a successful and healthy road trip. Plus, it’s something you can practice any time, whether your drive is 15 minutes or 15 hours. You should:
- Keep your back supported - Make sure that your lower back is as close to the seat as possible by sliding as close as you can get. There should only be about a two-finger gap between the back of your knees and the seat. If you need more support for your back, then try a lumbar roll or simply a rolled-up T-shirt to place between your lower back and the seat.
- Lift the hips - If your car allows you to adjust the part of the seat you sit on, also known as the seat pan, then do so. Tilting it to the right position will allow your thighs to be supported and ensure your knees are just a little bit lower than your hips. This can help to increase circulation as you sit.
- Adjust the height - Your seat should be high enough to put your eye level about three inches above the top of the steering wheel and allow you plenty of room between your head and the roof of the car.
- Recline a little -Do not channel your inner ‘90s rapper for your seat recline. Instead, it should be only a little bit greater than 90 degrees, usually somewhere between 100 and 110 degrees. This position will put the least amount of pressure on your back as you drive while allowing you to keep your neck and head in proper alignment.
- Adjust the mirrors - You can prevent strain to your neck and upper shoulders by ensuring your side and rearview mirrors are adjusted properly. They should be set so you can easily move your eyes to check traffic without moving your head.
A Few Good Stretches
Doing stretches before you get in the car, during breaks, and when you reach your destination is important. Don’t worry, it’s not necessary to twist yourself like a pretzel to benefit; simply try these easy stretches:
- Standing forward bend - To do this, stand with your feet together and let out a breath as you bend forward at the waist. Allow your head to hang down loose and keep your knees straight as you feel this stretch in your calves and hamstrings. Don’t forget to breathe!
- Standing side stretch - This easy stretch is accomplished by standing up straight with your arms down by your sides. Next, reach your left arm up over your head as you place your right arm on your hip. Bend over toward the right and feel the stretch in your side. Come back to the center and then repeat on the other side.
- Hamstring stretch - You can do this stretch while seated. Simply sit on the floor, bench, or ground -- perhaps at a roadside rest stop -- with one leg out in front of you and the other leg bent up so that the bottom of your foot rests against the thigh of the opposite leg. Next, reach toward your foot as you keep your back, knee, and neck straight. You should feel a stretch in your hamstring. Hold it for 30 seconds or so and repeat several times, then switch to the other leg.
Road trips are fun, but they can be tough on your body. Make sure you’re staying as healthy as you can while in your vehicle. And don’t forget, if you need help, you can find The Joint Chiropractic in cities across the country!
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this page are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this post is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, including but not limited to the benefits of chiropractic care, exercise and nutrition. It is not intended to provide or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your chiropractor, physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this page.