I just traveled over 2500 miles by car over the past two weeks. My friends, family and many of my clients know how excited I was to attend the sixth International Fascia Research Conference last week in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I was also excited to drive because I love a good road trip and I’ve never seen that part of the U.S. or Canada. The icing on the cake was that it is fall and the trees were starting to change.
I had planned to do it on my own but at the last minute my longtime friend and former colleague from our teaching days at Creighton University, Linda decided to go with me. I was thrilled. We’ve road tripped together to attend many Barnes Myofascial Release conferences over the past 20 years so we knew we could do it. It is a rare person you can spend that much time with in the car and still like each other after it is over. It has been a while since we road tripped together and neither of us are as young as we used to be. I’m 55 and we’ll just say that Linda has a few years on me. So, lots of time in the car when you’re past 25 can make a body pretty stiff.
If you know anything about fascia, you know it is constantly molding itself to whatever postures you put yourself in, so we wanted to make sure that we both didn’t end up shaped like the seat of my Toyota Rav4. If we wanted to survive this trip and still maintain our health and vibrance, we needed to take as many opportunities as possible to stretch our bodies and fascia along the way.
Linda was kind enough to model many of the stretches we did at rest stops, gas stations, and hotel parking lots. You can use the car as Linda is demonstrating but we also used picnic tables or anything else that would support us.
The key to good stretches for traveling is to get your body out of the shape of the car seat. Stretch all the joints of the arms, legs and hips. Stretch them in all directions. For example, don’t just stretch the knee straight as in the top middle picture. Also stretch the knee by compressing it as in the top left picture. Don’t forget the arms, shoulders, and hands too. All directions. Think opening the body, making yourself as big as you can lengthening everything, then close the body, making yourself as small as you can compressing everything.
Another key to good travel (fascia-focused) stretching is time. DO NOT skimp on the time in each stretch. Simply going in and out of each stretch quickly won’t cut it. It is good to do a few reps in and out but spend some time hanging out in each stretch. One or two minutes should do. Then end with a couple more reps to get the body fluids pumping. There are several videos on my website demonstrating similar stretches that can help you learn the best amount of time for stretching and releasing fascia.
Lastly, walk. If you have the space to get in a brisk walk for even just five minutes, do it. Start slow and get going just fast enough your arms will swing. This creates a good pumping action to get those fluids moving the way your body designed.
Make Sure to Take Your Best Buddies on Your Trip
Yes, Linda is one of my best buddies but that is not who I’m talking about. These little balls are my best travel buddies and have been traveling with me for over a decade. I won’t even take an overnight trip to see my Dad without them.
There are a few tips you need to know if you plan to travel with them.
If you are going to a hotel, bring along a yoga mat or have an extra towel to lay on the floor. Hotels vary widely in cleanliness. If you can get on the floor, you can replicate most of the releases we do in the Myofascial Self-Care Workshop. If you can’t get on the floor, you can use the balls against a wall which works well too. If you’re in Omaha, I try to hold my workshop about once per month. Check out the schedule here. If you’re not, check out my instructional book based on the workshop. Kindle version or PDF version. If you need a set of balls, these work great and are the same ones you see Linda using.
If you plan to use the balls while in the car, especially when you are driving KEEP THEM IN THE BAG. They are much less likely to roll away and down by your feet. That is dangerous!!! Linda modeled a few ideas on where to place the balls when driving.
Linda also says she never travels without them and keeps a set in her car at all times (as do I and many of my clients). Here you can see her with the balls under the leg to release along the IT band or hamstring, at the hip (glute), low back and upper back. Be creative, but more importantly be safe.
Linda agreed to do a couple bonus stretches. I admit that I don’t always remember to stretch the inner part of my leg. When I do, it feels so good and adds to my comfort level when I’m back in the car.
The picture on the left looks much like the upper left picture in the stretches at the beginning of the article. The difference is that her chest and hips are turned toward the camera. This opens the groin with the knee bent. You can also see she’s gently pressing the knee open. In the right-hand photo, the knee is straight. This puts the stretch emphasis on the inner thigh. I also had her hold the top of the door to add a little something for the shoulders. It’s always good to save time and get more bang for your buck with a stretch! Full body stretches are best for the fascia too!
Final Fascia Thoughts
It doesn’t matter if your trip is 100 or 1000 miles, try to stop and stretch at least once per hour or so, especially if you are like Linda and I and past 50 years young. Hold your stretches and do a few reps in and out. You’re both breaking adhesions that may be starting to form in your fascial layers and you’re pumping the water in your fascia to wring it out like a sponge. Every cell in your body will thank you for that! Drink lots of water to refresh your fascia after you stretch. This will also make sure you stop along the way and get more opportunity for movement! 🙂
I’ll write the next blog on how to set up and adjust your car seats for optimal comfort. If you don’t have an adjustable seat there is still plenty you can do to increase your comfort.
I look forward to sharing all I learned at the conference in upcoming posts as well!
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