Stuck in a traffic jam? Don’t waste time staring into space, honking at other cars or mulling over yesterday’s work presentation. Instead, add a healthy twist to your work commute with some easy-to-do, in-car exercises.
In cities like Singapore, driving during peak hours can take longer than expected. If you’re stuck in a traffic jam on an expressway, you could actually use the time to do a mini-workout in the car.
"It’s all beneficial: When you twist and turn, pull and stretch, you get to reduce aches from joint stiffness and muscle tension," says Jennifer Liaw, Senior Principal Physiotherapist, Department of Physiotherapy at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.
In fact, in-car exercises can be particularly useful for those who suffer from common spinal conditions such as neck pain or low back pain. Besides, prolonged sitting can aggravate back pain, while the sustained holding of the steering wheel and focusing on the road on long journeys can exacerbate neck pain.
Give these in-car exercises a try
- Turn the neck to one side, hold for five seconds. Repeat on the other side. Repeat two to five times as required.
- Sit straight, look forward and tilt your head to one side (ear to shoulder). You should feel the stretch on the side of the neck. Hold for five seconds. Repeat on the other side. Repeat two to five times as required.
- Sit upright and look down all the way (chin to chest) until you feel the stretch on the back of your head and your neck region. Hold for five seconds. Repeat two to five times as required.
- Sitting straight, rotate your trunk to one side. Hold for five seconds. Repeat on the other side.
- From a normal sitting position in the car, slowly roll your bottom (forward) away from the seat so as to form an arch in the small of your back. Hold for five seconds and slowly roll your back flat against the seat. Repeat this process two to five times as required. This helps to mobilise your back, especially if you are unable to sit for long periods due to backache or stiffness.
- To relieve pressure off the buttocks, shift body weight to the right and lift the left buttock off the seat. Hold for five seconds and lower the left buttock. Repeat on the other side. Repeat two to five times as required.
- Lean forward and put both hands to the back. Pull shoulders to the back and hold for five seconds. Repeat two to five times as required.
These in-car exercises are easy and safe for most people. It is normal to feel some stretching in the muscles and soft tissues while doing these exercises. Do not overstretch and stop the exercise if you experience pain.
If you have pre-existing neck, back or spinal problems, or if you are in doubt about whether you can perform certain exercises, do ask a professional. Besides a doctor, you can also check with a physiotherapist.
You should not do these exercises while driving. Safety is paramount. It is advisable to apply the parking brakes if you are doing the exercises in a traffic jam. If you are taking a break to do the exercises, it is advisable to turn the engine off.
With expertise from the Dept of Physiotherapy at:
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