Rarely do I actually drive anywhere – living in the city has its perks and when someone else is willing to do the driving I’m all for that. On the occasions that I do drive, I become hyper-aware of certain tension-causing activities that must be quite pervasive amongst commuters. Because my body isn’t used to doing these functions I notice the extra work and tension that builds after sitting in traffic for even short periods of time. This presents alarm-bells for me as a practitioner of massage, as movement patterns like this tend to become heavily ingrained in our physiology.
These 4 quick tips are specifically for those who have the pleasure(?) of commuting to work each day in their cars. Regularly making these a part of your daily trips can help reduce the amount of tension you collect and can even highlight some best-practices to help avoid (or get out of) pain.
Here are my top 4 tips, in no particular order:
- Move your whole foot to switch from the accelerator to the brake. Chances are that your heel generally stays right where it is and you just rotate back and forth to switch between them. I know it’s a LOT of effort, but lifting your whole foot off the ground to change speeds is a really great practice to get in the habit of. If you have any chronic knee pains, chances are this could help!
- Any time you come to a stop (in that oh so fun stop-start rush-hour movement), MOVE. There are so many things you can do. It could simply be pressing the ball of your foot into the brake and moving your heel around. Turn your head to look around (don’t just glance your eyes), tilt your head from side to side to release tension, let go of the steering wheel and roll out your wrists. Please remember to make sure you do this when the car is stopped… 😉
- Give your legs a little slappin’! (Particularly your right leg). A little self-percussion can reduce the amount of tension you hold in your legs. Make it nice and comfortable, and you can even use gentle fists to tap along your legs. It has the added benefit of replacing coffee in the morning for increasing alertness…don’t worry though – I’m not trying to take away your coffee. Promise.
- Crank up the music. Yep, not kidding. It helps with the whole movement thing (when stationary…), so get your dancing hats on. It also helps to pass the time and improve your mood – taking you out of the “ugh” and into the “fun” of a regular commute. Even though others might think you’re weird when they see you singing without any accompanying sound, pay no mind to that – remember, you’re having fun!
As a regular “let-someone-else-do-the-driving” kinda guy, I have a deep appreciation for the dedication and patience (or perceived patience) of those of you commuting to work every day. Kudos to you! Hopefully these little tips help freshen it up a bit and reduce your overall levels of tension.
Keep on moving!
For more helpful hints in everyday settings, read through: “Standing In Line…Turn Something Boring Into Something Useful: 5 Handy Tips“. And if you’ve got neck tensions like the rest of us, you might find this useful: “3 Strength Exercises to Reduce Neck Pain“.