Whether you travel with your partner, friends, family or by yourself, road trips are a fun experience that allows you to see places you might not otherwise. During travel, there is a lot to see and think about, keeping you busy from the beginning of your trip until you get home.
Sitting for long periods of time, though, can be stressful for your body — and when you are traveling via charter bus or motorcoach, you cannot get up and walk around as freely as you could if you were just at home. You may start to notice some stiffness in your muscles and joints. However, there are many stretches you can do in your seat, at a rest stop and even after you arrive at your destination that can help alleviate the stiffness and tension you might experience during travel.
Benefits of Stretching During Long Trips
Stretching is important to your overall health because it provides you with mobility, flexibility and strength. When you do not stretch, your muscles eventually shorten. This makes your muscles tighter and less limber. When you go to use your muscles during activity, they are weaker and not able to extend as far. This can cause you short-term pain like cramps and strains or even long-term issues such as muscle damage.
The best way to keep your muscles at their highest range of motion is by stretching. Stretching has additional benefits as well, including improved performance of physical activities, decreased injury risk, improved posture and reduced muscular tension.
Not only is stretching important in general, but it can also help relieve aches and pains that occur during certain activities. Specifically, spending long hours sitting in the same position during road trips can cause cramps, stiffness, pain and aches in your legs, back, neck and shoulders. To avoid experiencing these issues on your next road trip, make a habit of taking breaks throughout the journey and dedicating some time to doing simple stretches and exercises.
Stretches Passengers Can Do in Their Seats
During long car trips, you often sit in the same position for hours on end without much movement — and because you need to remain seated when traveling by car or bus, it is easy to feel as though you have no other options but to switch sitting positions occasionally and just brush off any stiffness. However, there are actually a variety of stretches you can do right in your seat. Here are eight stretches that are ideal for long bus rides or motorcoach trips:
1. Shoulder Rolls
If you feel stiffness in your shoulders or pain in your upper back or neck, do some simple shoulder rolls right in your seat. To start, sit in an upright position and gently shrug your shoulders. Hold them in that position for a few seconds, then gently roll them back to loosen up the muscles in your back and upper neck. Repeat this a few times as needed during the trip.
2. Shoulder Stretches
Another stretch to do during road trips to lessen tension in your shoulders is a shoulder stretch. This movement requires you to sit up straight in your seat. Begin by placing your right hand on your right shoulder blade, pointing your elbow toward the car’s roof. You can grab the back of your seat to help deepen the stretch. Repeat this with your left hand on your left shoulder blade.
3. Neck Stretches
To stretch your neck while riding as a passenger, bring your chin down to your chest, letting your head hang down for 10 seconds. If you want to feel more of a stretch, place the palm of your hand on the top of your head and gently pull down.
Stretch the side of your neck by bringing your ear to your shoulder without shrugging your shoulders, and hold this position for about 10 seconds. Gently pull on your head with the same arm that your head is leaning toward to increase the stretch. Repeat this on the opposite side.
4. Neck Swivels
Another neck stretch to do in the car is the neck swivel. Start this stretch by sitting tall in your seat and leaning your head to the left. Hold this position for a few seconds, then roll your neck to the front and hold, also for a few seconds. Roll your head to the right and hold. Return your head to an upright position and repeat as necessary.
5. Back Twists
Stretch your back by lightly twisting it. To properly perform this twist, sit forward in your seat and rotate your torso to the left, grabbing the arm or back of the chair to deepen the stretch. Hold this position for a few seconds, then repeat on the right side.
6. Chest Stretches
To stretch your chest, cross your arms in front of you as if giving yourself a hug. Next, relax your arms for a few seconds, then drive your shoulders back and squeeze them together, expanding your chest.
7. Hip Stretches
The best way to stretch your hips while on a road trip is to sit with your left foot flat on the floor and your right ankle resting on your left knee. Lean forward, feeling the stretch in your lower back and hips. Repeat on the other side.
8. Groin Stretches
While seated, cross one leg over the other with your ankle resting on the opposite knee. Add pressure to the crossed leg’s knee, pushing it toward the ground and repeating for 10 reps. Do this again with the other leg to complete the stretch.
Stretches to Do During Rest Stops and After the Trip
Along with stretching in your seat, make sure that throughout your road trip, you also pull over occasionally and use rest stops to your advantage for some quick stretches. You can walk around to get your legs moving, and there are a lot of other easy moves you can do to soothe your muscles while at a rest stop, too. Here are some of the best stretches to break up a long bus ride:
1. Toe Touches
One simple yet effective stretch you can do while at a rest area is toe touches. Toe touches benefit your hamstrings, calves and lower back. This stretch simply requires you to bend at the waist, letting your arms reach down toward your feet. Reach as far down as you can without bending your legs and hold your arms there for a few seconds.
2. Ankle Rolls
Doing some ankle rolls at a rest stop can help restore the blood circulation in your feet, ankles and legs. To do ankle rolls, use one hand to hold on to something to keep your balance and put the other hand on your hip. Lift your right leg, bending it at the knee so your foot is off the ground. Rotate your foot at the ankle slowly in one direction for eight to 10 rotations, then reverse directions and repeat. Put your right foot down and finish the stretch by completing the same thing with the left foot.
3. Calf Stretches
Another way to restore blood circulation in your feet while also relieving heel pain and stretching your calf muscles is calf stretches. This stretch requires an object for you to put your foot on, such as a tire or rest stop bench. Place the toes of one foot on the object, and lean forward, pushing against your foot. You should feel a slight stretch behind your toes and in the arch of your foot. Hold this position for a few seconds, then repeat the process with the other foot.
4. Hamstring Stretches
Stretching your hamstrings is simple to do and can help relieve pain from sitting for too long. Stand up with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart. Lean forward at the waist to touch your toes. Slightly bend your knees, reaching toward the ground as far as you can. Remember to breathe deeply into the stretch, holding this position for a few seconds.
5. Hip Stretches
To stretch out your hips, start on one knee in a lunge position. Push your pelvis forward so that your front knee bends and your back knee straightens. If you feel off-balance, you can stabilize yourself by placing your hands on the ground or on your front leg. Repeat with the opposite leg to finish the stretch.
After sitting for a long time, you may feel some pressure or aches in your hips and glutes. One way to help get rid of these aches is to stretch by doing a few squats. One way to do this safely is with the help of a bench to keep your balance and allow you to immerse yourself deeply into the stretch.
To start the squat, stand with your feet hip-width apart, slowly bending your knees and lowering your body. Hold on to the bench and come down as far as you comfortably can. With your arms straight along the seat of the bench holding the far side, grip the bench and lean back until you feel a gentle stretch, holding this position for 15-30 seconds. Slowly return to a standing position, and repeat this stretch a few times.
7. Back Arches
Back arches are a good stretch to help minimize some of the back pain that results naturally from sitting upright for so long. This stretch requires you to stand a few feet away from your car or bus with your back to it. Lift your arms above your head, then bend back toward the car. You should feel a stretch in your back and shoulders as well as in your abdominal muscles. Hold this position for up to 10 counts, then slowly return to a standing position.
8. Waist Twists
While at a rest area, find an open space where you can hold both arms out without bumping into anything or anyone. Stand with your arms down at your sides and your knees slightly bent. Begin by twisting at your waist in one direction, letting your arms loosely swing. Keeping your arms relaxed, twist the other direction. Repeat these twists multiple times to soothe some of the stiffness you may feel in your back.
9. Pectoral Stretches
If you feel tightness in your chest or pectoral muscles after a car ride, you can work on loosening them with the help of a door frame. Stand in a doorway, lifting your arm to a 90-degree angle. Put your palm on the door frame, leaning into it and feeling the stretch. Repeat this process with the other hand and do a few reps on each side to complete the stretch.
10. Shoulder Rolls
To release shoulder stiffness and soothe neck and upper back pain, do some shoulder rolls. To do so, stand tall with your back straight and your head held high. Slowly roll your shoulders backward eight times, then reverse and roll your shoulders forward for eight counts.
11. Neck Rolls
Allow blood to circulate back to your head and ease any neck and shoulder pain you may have with a neck roll. Stand up straight, then relax your neck and let your head fall forward. Without putting pressure on it, roll your head slowly in a clockwise direction so you can feel the stretch as you move your head. Once your head returns to its starting position, repeat the process in a counterclockwise direction. Remember to move your head slowly and gently to avoid feeling dizzy or further straining your neck.
Plan Your Next Roadtrip With Arrow Stage Lines
If you and your loved ones want to do some traveling, make your vacation fun and worry-free by chartering with Arrow Stage Lines. We understand the importance of your safety and schedule, which is why we pride ourselves on having a great safety record, elite maintenance and an on-time promise. If you are ready to hire a motorcoach for your next road trip, contact us for more information about our services or get a quote for your trip today!