Wellness: Train While Stuck in Mountain Traffic

June 29 2012, 1:55 PM

Playing in the mountains comes with an adverse side effect: traffic. Miles of it. And while warming up your vocal chords to the latest Carly Rae Jepsen hit seems productive, your muscles could probably use the warm-up even more because nothing's worse than stepping out in Aspen with stiff legs. Prevent pre-hike and -bike rigidity with these in-car stretches from Kevin Younger, physical therapist and owner of Athletic Improvement Center in Fort Collins.

Upper Trap: If traffic is at a standstill, reach behind your back with your left hand, resting it at the center of your spine or right hip. With your right hand, reach over the top of your head until hand is over left ear. Gently pull your head towards the right shoulder until you feel a stretch. Hold for 10 seconds. Switch sides; repeat three times (or as necessary). This stretch will help counteract the poor posture soreness that comes with a three- to four-hour ride.

Hamstring: Passengers, lean your seat all the way back and scoot backwards until your legs are straightened in front of you. Keeping back straight, flex toes and lean forward, reaching for toes. Hold for 30 seconds; repeat every half hour. This move prevents tight hamstrings and lower back pain.

Butt: Clench your tush and hold for five seconds. Relax; repeat 10 times. This mini-stretch will tone your deriere while keeping it from going numb on the long ride.

Ankles: If using cruise control, flex and point toes 20 times. Repeat as necessary. This move will keep blood from pooling and ankles from swelling. Compression socks will help even more.

Posterior Shoulder: When traffic is at a standstill, stretch left arm straight in front of you. Curl right arm around left elbow, and slowly pull left arm toward opposite shoulder, keeping left arm straight. Hold for 10 seconds. Switch sides; repeat five times or as necessary. 

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock