Anyone who has long distance driving ahead of them should learn some useful techniques to make the drive easier so they arrive at their destination safe and healthy. Long hours sitting in a car can take its toll on your muscles, back, and even your mental state. Following are a few handy tips you can use to ease the journey:
Make regular stops – Figure out how many total miles you are driving and divide it up into shorter distances where you can plan a rest stop. For instance, if your total drive is 450 miles, you can stop three times, once every 150 miles. One can be a stop for gas, one for a meal and another for a toilet break. Getting out of the car and moving around will help keep you alert on the road and provide your body with some fresh air.
Remember to stretch – Sitting in one position for hours on end can cause back, neck and leg problems. Your hip flexors tend to shorten, causing lower back pain, and keeping your leg extended for a long period of time can lead to leg cramps. Before you head out on the road, and at each rest stop, do some simple stretches.
Bend over to touch your toes, which will stretch the muscles in your back and neck. Then stretch your calves by keeping your feet flat on the floor and leaning forward with your hands against the car or a wall. You can then stretch your hamstrings by bending each leg at the knee and holding your foot close to the back of your thigh.
Take short naps – If you are feeling tired, pull off the road and take a short 15- or 20-minute nap. It will refresh you and ensure you are alert while driving. If you begin to feel drowsy while driving, open the window to get some fresh air, which may help to revive you until you can find a safe place to pull off the road.
Don’t overeat – A heavy, calorie-laden meal, such as fast food, can make you feel sleepy. Be sure not to eat too much before you head out on the road, and take along healthy snacks to munch on along the way, such as nuts, carrot sticks or simple sandwiches. Try to avoid eating too much sugar, as it will give you a short-term burst of energy, but a short time later you will likely have an energy crash and feel sleepy. Keep the snacks easily accessible so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road. If you bring along a more complicated meal, pull off the road before eating. It’s a good excuse to take a break too!
Listen to upbeat music – While calm, beautiful music may be soothing, it is also more likely to reduce alertness and make you drowsy. Listen to something with an energetic beat and turn the volume up. Singing along is also useful, as it keeps you active. Some even suggest listening to a radio station you don’t like, as the annoyance factor will help keep you alert. A little annoying talk radio might just do the trick!
Dr. Matt Ramirez graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Human Biology in 2004 and received his Doctor of Chiropractic Degree in 2006. He specializes in auto injury recovery and rehabilitation and has enhanced and improved thousands of lives as well as treated people of all ages over the years. He is also an expert in health and wellness, massage therapy, chiropractic care, and more...