Getting out of the car every hour or so, even just for a minute or two, can get the blood flowing and give muscles a break from the relatively static posture assumed when riding in the car or driving.
Stretching the legs, arms, back, neck and shoulders while taking a break from the car is a good idea. Passengers can get creative and find ways to stretch in the car as well – without distracting the driver, of course.
Heavy traffic causes stress, and stress is no good for your body in a number of ways. On the muscular level, it causes tension – this is due to the body’s fight or flight response. When this instinctual reflex kicks in, the body tenses the muscles to prepare them for action. While useful when people needed to run away from wild beasts, muscle tension is in no way helpful in the car. If possible, leave for your destination a few days ahead of time, and stick around a few days after.
Take the scenic route.
If you must travel on high-traffic days, consider taking the roads less traveled. It’s true that the scenic route tends to lengthen time spent in the car, but this may not be the case when there’s a ton of traffic on the main roads.
Slumping over in your seat, leaning your head against the window – these are not examples of good posture, and there’s no reason not to practice proper ergonomics in the car. Drivers should sit up straight, using a lumbar cushion for support if they’ll be driving for a long time. Passengers should consider bringing a neck cushion or other pillow in case they want to sleep on the ride; this will prevent awkward neck angles that guarantee stiffness.
Be kind to your body this holiday season. You can limit the impact of travel on your musculoskeletal system, perhaps sparing yourself some neck and back pain, by taking commonsense steps while in the car.