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Most mums spend an average of 2 hours per day in the car being a mummy chauffeur!

Dropping the kids to school, driving to work, picking the kids up and/or taking them to an after school activity and just doing everyday errands.

Backs tend to be in a slumped position during that time, our neck is pushed forward so that the muscles fatigue around the neck and shoulder after a short period and our mid back becomes stiff and sore.

Although we can’t change the amount of time we spend in the car, we can do a few exercises to minimise the pressure on the neck, mid back and lower back by keeping the muscles strong and the joints mobile in these areas.

Here are my top 5 pilates moves to try when in and out of the car, best to do these while the car is stationary:

1) Upper trapezius activation

This muscle is a very important muscle to help support the neck and upper body posture as the major stabiliser of the shoulder blades and upper body.

Sitting in the car for a prolonged period can fatigue this muscle, so reminding it to activate and work can help reduce pressure on the neck and shoulders.

  • Sitting with your hands on the steering wheel, bring your shoulder blades back and up a little bit.
  • Hold this position for 3 seconds.
  • Repeat this 10 times.

2) Bow and arrow for the upper back 

Stiffness in the upper back (thoracic spine) is very common after prolonged driving and increases the load in the facet joints of the neck affecting your posture.

This can be reduced with simple bow and arrow stretch to reduce thoracic stiffness which can also be performed while the car is stationary.

  • Sitting up as straight as possible, with your arms out in front, on top of the steering wheel.
  • Pull one arm down by your side at shoulder height and twist your upper back with you until your elbow touches the seat.
  • Return to the starting position with your arms in front of you.
  • Repeat this 10 times per side.

3) Direct activation of your rotator cuff muscles

Sitting directly on your shoulder blades, your rotator cuff muscle hold the shoulder in the correct position, especially when typing or using a mouse.

These muscles become weaker and tighter with prolonged sitting in the car and need to be trained.

  • Sitting with your arms by your side, with your elbows by your side, bent at 90 degrees.
  • Place your hands on the inside of the steering wheel.
  • Activate your upper trapezius first by bringing your shoulder blades back and up a bit.
  • Push your hand against the inside of the steering wheel to activate your rotator cuff muscles.
  • Hold for 3 seconds, then repeat 10 times per side.

4) Single leg bridging to activate your gluteus maximus muscle

This exercise, working on the gluteus maximus muscle (buttock muscle) is very important because weakness in this muscle means it is harder to sit up straight when driving, which changes the posture of the mid back and neck, majority affecting neck pain.

This muscle will need to be worked when out of the car, either at home or when you arrive at work.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  • Raise one leg in the air, this will be the starting position.
  • Lift your bottom into the air to bring your body to straight.
  • Hold for 3 seconds, then lower your body down.
  • Repeat 10 times per side

5) Multifidus muscle strength (Direct back control muscle)

Again, this muscle is important for direct control of the lumbar spine, but will also need to be exercised when out of the car.

  • Start on all fours.
  • Maintain a small arch in the back and squeeze your lower back muscles together (you should feel a sensation of the lower back muscles pushing towards the midline).
  • Maintaining this contraction, lift your leg straight back up in the air.
  • Hold for 3 sec and lower the leg down.
  • Repeat 10 times per leg.

These exercises will strengthen your muscles and should help you stop getting a sore neck and back.

Let us know if you tried them and if you think they worked for you. Please comment below.

  • Great tips!! Not sure how I would go about doing them while driving but still good to know.

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  • I’m sure these tips will help a lot of mums! I don’t drive so I can’t test them. :-)

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  • Great tips for busy people

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  • Great work out tips fir mums doing a bit of time in the car. Pilates is such a brilliant workout for anyone in any situation. Yoga is excellent too. I enjoy my daily yoga session

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  • cool =- thanks for sharing. love the look the child is giving with the butt one!

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  • Thanks for posting this, some great tips. Have to show this to my DH as he is out on the road a lot.

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  • Thank you so much for the great ideas!

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  • I work from home 3 days a week where I sit at a computer desk for a prolonged period of time. I try to get up at regular intervals and walk to the front of the house, or throw the ball with the dog for 5 minutes. I do yoga to try and combat things and walk 3 mornings a week. However, when work needs to be done and you’re on deadline, it’s often hard to just leave the desk!

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  • Great article. I’m just beginning to get started on some gentle exercise and stretching techniques in order to strengthen my bad back.

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  • I spend a lot of time in the car driving long distance, these exercise will certainly help me. Thank you Michael.


    • I’m happy to hear that you are finding these exercises useful. Any suggestions for future article or tips, please email me at admin@mdhealth.com.au. I’d be more than happy to help.

    Reply

  • Great article – my daughter always asks how I remained so upright and I always tell her whenever I am walking [I walk every day] I walk with the thought in my head that I am on a string and being pulled upright. I can actually feel my spine and neck open up as I walk. I was always a couple of centimetres taller than the eldest one and she keeps waiting for me to shrink – I haven’t yet – I’m in my 70’s she in her late 40’s.

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  • yes now this is a great article for sure!. a very practical thing to do.

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  • Thanks for the interesting exercises on the go! ;)

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  • These are great. Thank you

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  • mums spend a lot of time in the car

    Reply

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