When you’ve been driving for hours at a time, it’s common to experience muscle tension or even pain throughout your body. Taking a short break every once and a while to stretch quickly can help you feel much more comfortable behind the wheel. Not only will regular stretching help you feel better, but it can also prevent muscle imbalances that cause chronic injuries in the long term. You don’t need any special equipment or setup to stretch – there are plenty of excellent stretches that can be done while pulled over in a parking lot. Here are some of the best stretches and yoga poses to do when you’re driving Uber for hours at a time.
1. Calf Stretch (Outside car)
The basic calf stretch should be an important part of any Uber driver’s routine. It’s not uncommon to experience leg pain while driving for a long time, and this can help combat it.
- Step one foot in front of the other and bend your front knee to create a shallow lunge.
- Straighten the back knee to stretch your calf muscles, holding onto the car for balance. Repeat on both sides, deepening the stretch as you go.
- If you want an even deeper calf stretch, find a staircase or a curb with a handrail to hold onto for balance. Stand with the balls of your feet on the step and let your heels drop down off of it. This stretch is intense, but it’s a great way to counteract the tension that builds up in the lower legs after driving for hours.
2. Quad Stretch (Outside car)
Your quads can get tense while you drive, and they are often very difficult to stretch. They’re one of the largest muscles in the body, so when they are stiff, you’re going to feel fatigued and sore. This stretch is one you can do anywhere, as long as you have something to hold on to.
- Hold on to the side of your car and kick one leg up behind you.
- Grab your foot with the same hand and gently pull it up and towards your buttocks. Repeat on the other side.
3. Forward Fold (Outside car)
This easy stretch targets a wide range of muscle groups that can get tense during driving. You should feel a deep stretch in your back as well as in the backs of your legs. It’s an important component of any yoga practice.
- Start by standing. Gently bend forward at the waist, bringing your chest towards your legs and dropping your head towards the ground.
- Relax into the stretch, bending your knees if necessary. You can grab elbows or have your hands on the floor.
- Bonus: To target the upper back: clasp your hands behind your legs and gently lift your torso until you feel a stretching sensation in your mid-back.
Muscles: hamstrings, gastrocnemius, glutes, erector spinae
4. Cat/Cow Variation (Inside car)
This is gentle yoga exercise that can be modified for the front seat. It’s normal to experience a stiff back from driving Uber, and these lower back stretches are a great way to loosen things up.
- Start by sliding your chair back all the way and sitting up tall with your back separated at least a few inches from the seat.
- Cow: Place your palms face down on the dashboard in front of you. As you exhale, gently tuck your chin to your chest while rounding your back. Envision forming a semi-circle with the spine.
- Then, as you inhale, raise your chin and your head so you’re looking up while rolling your shoulders down and arching your back. Envision forming the opposite half of the semi-circle. Repeat a few times to loosen up the spine.
Muscles: Trapezius, splenius, rhomboid, erector spinae
5. Seated Figure Four Variation (Inside car)
Figure four stretches are a great way to stretch out your hips and groin, which can get very tight after driving for a long time. Normally you would do a figure four stretch laying down, but you can also do them seated in your car.
- Start with both feet flat on the floor. Slide your driver’s seat far back so that you have room to cross your legs.
- Then, take your right foot and cross it over your left leg, so that your right ankle is resting on your left knee.
- To deepen the stretch, keep your spine strong and straight but hinge your torso forward. This can be intense for many people, so take it slow. Repeat on the other side.
Muscles: Gluteus minimus and maximus, psoas, hamstrings
6. Seated Twist (Inside car)
This is one of the easiest stretches to do while you’re sitting in the car. It stretches the muscles in your side, back, and neck.
- Sit with your feet flat on the floor and turn your torso so that it’s facing the right.
- Turn your head so that you’re looking all the way over your shoulder. You can use the walls, seat rest, wheel, or dashboard of your car to assist you in the twist. To maintain the integrity of the spine, work to keep chest tall and proud while twisted.
- Hold for several deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.
Muscles: Sternocleidomastoid, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, obliques
7. Supported Bridge Variation (Inside car)
This stretch is a great way to counter stretch your hips and reduce glute soreness from driving Uber all day. Again, slide the seat all the way back so that you have room to lift your hips.
- Plant your feet on the ground and grip the edges of the seat, close to your hips.
- Press your upper back into the seat rest as you press through your heels to lift your hips. Your thighs may make contact with the steering wheel depending on the size of your car or the flexibility of your spine. Simply slide your feet closer to the base of the seat to decrease the necessary range of motion.
- At your fullest extension, you should feel an engaged stretching sensation in your glutes.
Muscles: Erector spinae, gluteus
It can be easy to get caught up in a marathon driving session and stay behind the wheel for hours. Take a break every few hours to stretch – it will help you feel more comfortable so you can focus on the road.
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Alyssa Paskow B.S., E-RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) has more than 400 hours of training and seven years of yoga experience. She has worked in the health and wellness industry for three years and has been an avid fitness enthusiast for far longer.