A lot of people think that exercise is when you set aside time out of your day to go to the gym. That is not the case. A little bit of exercise throughout the day will make a difference. You may need to start these exercises while safely in a stopped position in your car first. As you get better at them, you can try them while driving down the road, but make sure you are still paying close attention to the road. Let’s find different ways that we can fit this in:
Exercise #1: Diaphragmatic Breathing
Many of us don’t take time to slow down and deep breath, and we tend to take shallow breaths by using our upper chest. Think of deep breathing like opening an umbrella: as we inhale, the rib cage expands and the umbrella opens. As we exhale, we close the umbrella and the rib cage slowly returns to its resting position.
Try inhaling slowly for 5 seconds, feeling the rib cage expand and the motion move into your trunk. Then, exhale for 5 seconds. Try to avoid upper chest breathing. If you feel your shoulders going up and down to breath in and out, then you’re using your upper chest and accessory muscles. Try taking 10 deep breaths in and out. This is a great way to de-stress and calm us down, and it’s a wonderful way to get our deep core muscles working together. Our abdominals, diaphragm, and pelvic floor all work together in syncrony when we take deep breaths.
Exercise #2: Chin Tucks
This exercise is to help take stress off our neck and improve neck posture. A lot of what we do in a day brings our head and neck forward. This can lead to chronic neck pain, headaches and unnecessary stress on our spine. We want to start by aligning our ears over our shoulders. The motion is similar to making a “double chin.” Tuck your chin in towards your spine. This will elongate the muscles in the back of our neck and activate the muscles on the front, putting your neck in better alignment. Try doing a chin tuck and holding for 5 seconds, then relax for 5 seconds. Try 10 repetitions.
Exercise #3: Deep Belly Contractions
This exercise is similar to the diaphragmatic breathing exercise, but now we are going to activate your deepest core muscles in your belly. Take a nice breath in. As you exhale, think about gently drawing your belly in towards your spine and away from your pant line. Think about your pants being too tight and you need to pull your belly in. You should feel some activation of the lower belly muscles. This is a gentle activation, be sure to avoid a forceful contraction and avoid breath holding. This is not “sucking in” as this can create bad pressure in the core system. The idea is to exhale and draw the belly in, you should be able to talk while doing this exercise. Try drawing the belly in for 5 seconds and then relax. Try 10 repetitions.
Exercise #4: Kegels
The fourth exercise is doing a “Kegel”, also known as a pelvic floor muscle contraction. Let’s first find where the pelvic floor muscles live. While in a seated position, rock back and forth to feel your two “sit” or butt bones. Between those two bones are the pelvic floor muscles. They are located around your anus and vagina between your two sit bones. When you contract these muscles, they will stop urine or gas from exiting the body. Keep your sit bones down on the chair or car seat while doing this exercise. When you contract your pelvic floor, you should feel a subtle squeeze around the anus and vagina and a small lift of the muscles off of the chair. Imagine you are stopping yourself from passing gas or stopping your urine stream mid-stream. You should be breathing or be able to talk while doing this exercise. Avoid sucking in or making this a big contraction. It should be gentle. Try and hold for 5 seconds. Try 10 repetitions.
If you are having trouble feeling this or you feel like you are tightening your thighs or buttocks, then you are doing this incorrectly. Go home and try the exercise while lying down and if you still can’t feel it in that position, you should contact a pelvic physical therapist to help you.
This is a super quick routine that you can fit in while driving and can practice a few times per day depending on how long you are in your car. If you have questions, please feel free to comment or message us and we are happy to try and answer them.
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