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Heading on a Road Trip? This Is How You Can Stretch in a Car

Woman performing a seated twist in day clothes.
Karla Tafra

Holiday travel is just around the corner, and whether you’re gearing up for a cross-country road trip or an airplane ride, you’re bound to be sitting down for quite some time which can take a toll on your body.

Luckily, even with a limited amount of space and a restricted range of movement, there are some efficient exercises you can perform to help improve your blood flow and prevent stiff muscles and joints. Here’s what you can do to stretch in a car, train, bus, and even in your airplane seat.

Seated Twist

Place your right hand on your left knee and straighten your spine. Inhale and gently start turning to the left, going as far as it feels comfortable, looking through the back window. Exhale and slowly turn back, allowing your head to come last.

Repeat the twist on the other side and then repeat the whole move two more times on each side, deepening the twists every time. Use your full inhales and exhales to get into your twist, really feeling the blood rush through your extremities when you release. Just keep in mind that you should never feel restricted in your breathing when you’re performing the stretch.

Car cushion

Get comfortable on road trips.

Seated Cat & Cow

Place your hands on your thighs and on your inhale, curve your spine, looking up. Feel the front side of your body stretch as your hands grip tightly on your legs. Go as far as you can and use the backbend to really go deep into your stretch.

Exhale, and bring your chin to your chest, curving the spine in the other direction. You can leave your hands on your thighs or interlace them in front of you, pushing your arms as far away as possible. Go for three to five long inhales and exhales, getting as deep into your stretch as possible, feeling each vertebra stack on top of each other with ease.

Travel Pillow

Supports your neck while you fly.

Seated Figure Four Stretch

Bring your right leg up and place your foot right above your left knee. Allow your right knee to fall to the side and open up naturally. For some people, this might be just what they need to feel the stretch, while others might want to gently push on the right knee to open up the hip and feel the stretch intensify.

Get in tune with your breath and stay for five long inhales and exhales before repeating the same thing on the other side. Additionally, if you want to further intensify the stretch, slowly bend over and start folding over your legs. This will activate your lower back and start stretching back muscles, so make sure there are no sharp shooting pains or tingles down your legs.

Travel organizer

All you need for easy and organized travel.

Neck Stretch

Interlace your fingers behind your neck and gently start pulling your head down, chin toward your chest. Your chin doesn’t actually have to touch your chest but the goal is to reach for the connection in order to fully stretch out your neck muscles. Stay here for three long breath cycles.

On your last exhale, return to the center, and then place your palms under your chin. Inhale, and gently push your head back, stretching the front part of your neck. This might be very intense for some people so go slowly and stop where you feel is your limit. Stay for three long inhales and exhales and return to the center.

And finally, in order to properly stretch the sides of your neck, place your left hand at the edge of your seat and your right palm right on top of your head. Inhale, and gently pull your head to your right shoulder, feeling the stretch on your left side. Go as far as it feels comfortable, you shouldn’t feel any pain. Stay for three long inhales and exhales and repeat on the other side.

Percussion massager

Great recovery tool during long travel days.

Knees to Chest

Lift both legs onto your seat and hug your knees tightly. Feel the space in between your thighs and abdomen disappear and support each other. Depending on how close you can get your knees to your chest, you’ll feel the intensity of the stretch in your lower back. If it feels good, bring your forehead to your knees as well and feel the release of tension in your neck and shoulders. Stay for three long inhales and exhales.

Massage ball

Helps release muscle fascia during travel.

Upper Back Stretches

And last, but not least, this is a combination of different upper body stretches you can do depending on how you’re feeling. If you’ve been carrying suitcases or sleeping on one side on day one of your road trip, you might want to move a bit differently than you would on day two. Take these exercises as a recommendation and tailor them to your preference.

Lift your arms up and interlace your fingers. Turn both arms to the right to feel the stretch on the left side of your body, then turn them both to the left to feel the stretch on the right. Repeat as many times as you’d like.

Bring your interlaced hands in front of you and push them as far away from your body as possible, feeling the space in between your shoulder blades expand and stretch. You can also drop your head down and add a neck stretch.

Bring your arms up and bend at the elbows, dropping them over your head and clasping the palms together. This is an intense stretch of your triceps muscles so go easy on yourself and try to deepen the stretch with every breath you take. Stay for at least three breath cycles.

Travel blanket

Easy and comfortable blanket to travel long-distances.

These exercises are great for whenever you’re spending long periods of time in a seated position. Additionally, if you’re dealing with upper body pain on a daily basis, add these three easy stretches to your everyday routine.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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