Exercise in the CAR!
Updated: Jul 30
Exercise takes time. We must devote a large amount of time to just stay in shape. Thousand of years ago, our lifestyle was all exercise in the form of hunting, gathering, farming. You get the picture.
As we all know, most of our urban lives are somewhat sedentary. As a matter of fact, we sit on our butts for way too many hours, allowing them to spread. Sitting is by far the worst position for most people with back pain, especially if you have a bulging or herniated disc. Therefore desk work, driving in a car and traveling in an airplane range from frustrating to excruciating.
As a physical therapist, we focus on the mechanical aspects of the spine. It is the one area that we can affect and change. Most people in today's society have extremely poor posture. This poor posture goes hand in hand with pathetic core support. (Translate--- weak muscles!)
You know that word, core? It has become a very popular term. I like to think of it as all encompassing, abdominals, low back and even our thoracic region. Our workouts at the gym cover some of these areas but many times there is little carry over into daily life. For example, FREEZE..... that's right don't move! Are you slumped? Is your head forward of your body? Are you shoulders rounded forward? Is your stomach sticking out? Is your low back rounded where it should be curved and concave?
Now try this, engage your abdominals (yes, tighten your belly), elongate your spine (sit up nice and tall reaching the top of you head to the ceiling), pull your shoulder blades down and into your spine, and lastly tuck you chin in just slightly. You are now at least 1 inch taller while sitting. Perfect! Now how do you practice this?
Practice in your car, YES... while driving.
Actually start before you drive. When you get into the car, set your seat at a comfortable distance from the wheel. Not right on top of the wheel but no slumping while driving. You know how all the kids (especially the boys) drive. They have the seat back so far down that they can actually look out the back window from the front seat. This puts your spine in such a flexed position that you might as well drive straight to the hospital if you have back pain. This older man isn't doing much better!
Getting back on track....... when your seat is set correctly, close enough so your leg doesn't have to reach for the pedals, start the process.
I will repeat it:
Engage your abdominals
Elongate your spine
Pinch your shoulder blades down and back
Tuck in your chin.
NOW, adjust your rearview mirror!
Keep that good strong posture, if you can't see out the rearview mirror, adjust your posture, NOT THE MIRROR.
Initially it may be very uncomfortable for you to maintain this posture. That's because your muscles are not used to supporting your spine and body. You are actually exercising Isometrically while driving in the car! Hang in there, eventually you will feel uncomfortable when you are NOT sitting up straight.
Good luck, let me know how it goes.