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How to do it in the car

I had a lovely long weekend trip to Montreal this past weekend – five hours by car. Fortunately I was the passenger so I could move around and change positions often. If I had to sit in one position for five hours there would be a lot of stretching stops! 

I always travel with my trusty “squishy ball,” a small 9″ ball that is often utilized in Pilates classes but which I use barely blown up behind the small of my back. Along with my ball, this time I brought along my new Yoga Tune Up® balls. These were a gift from a Restorative Exercise™ colleague who also teaches Yoga Tune Up®. These were terrific!

I started by placing them in the bag and placing them high up on my shoulders, between the car seat and my back. Then I just sat back and my own body weight pressed the balls delightfully into the muscles along my spine. After a few minutes, I would lean forward a bit and the balls would roll down an inch and I would repeat this all the way down to the sacrum. Then I would work my way back up, using my hands to place the balls.

I also figured out how to do some various Restorative Exercises™ in the car. Here’s a few.

WARNING: you should not do the exercises with the feet on the dashboard in a moving car! Airbag deploy could cause serious injury!

Top of Foot Stretch: with bare feet (are there any other kind?), shove your foot against the front windshield where it meets the dash in a wedge. I did this one foot at a time.

 P1050204                   P1050203

Hard to see here but the top of my foot is right against the glass and it is creating that shape of my foot (called plantarflexion). (Yes, it rained a bit on the drive there. But we had perfect weather all weekend!)

Head Hang: Drop your chin to your chest for a minute (this one is NOT for the driver!).

Head Ramp: Here’s one the driver can practice too. Keeping your chin low, slide your head back until the back of your skull touches the headrest. Hold it there, opening the area between your neck and your skull.

Finger Stretches: as easy to do in the car as it is on the couch at home, or in the office.

Toe stretches and foot massages: Cross your foot over the other leg. Place your fingers between your toes and “hold hands with your feet.” There are many various toe stretches you can do to your own feet. You can also use your toe stretchers or special toe socks in the car obviously.

Squat prep: Put your chair all the way back. Place both feet against the dash. If you have a squishy ball, put it in the small of your back to help maintain the lumbar curve. You can do this one leg at a time as well.


Twists: turn your trunk in one direction and hold for a minute, repeat on the other side.


I tried to change my sitting position as often as I could. Basically, once you get rid of your soft chairs and passive seated postures, it’s pretty hard to sit in one position for long. Being “fussy” is a good thing. Don’t forget to take a big bottle of water in the car. It’s easy to forget to drink when you are sitting still for long periods, not doing anything. This has the added benefit of making husbands stop for pee breaks and you can stretch your legs.

Imagine how thrilled I was when I got to Montreal and discovered my Airbnb apartment had a standing workstation. The owner is a costume designer and had this table set up using a couple of big plastic containers stacked one on top the other, with a cork board on top! Perfect for google-mapping stores and restaurants.



9 thoughts on “How to do it in the car

  • This is so timely!! Long flight tomorrow. Didn’t even think to bring my Yoga TuneUp balls in my carry on. Thanks for these great tips, I’ll be putting as many of them as I can to use tomorrow!

  • Squat prep! Such a great idea. These are fabulous tips and I’m sharing! We had two back to back 2 hour trips yesterday and I had an anxious dog on my lap so I couldn’t do much and I’m paying for it today! These would have saved my back and legs! Off to buy more tune-up balls so I have a pair in the car too.

  • Enjoyed the post and suggestions. Made me say to myself “dah, why haven’t I thought of that”. Tune-up balls in the car will be happening soon.

  • WARNING: you should not do the exercises with the feet on the dashboard in a moving car! Airbag deploy could cause serious injury!

    You can clearly see through the windscreen of the vehicle that you are on a road with 2 lanes on each side…

  • You are right! I learned in hindsight what a dangerous practice this is and didn’t want to give the impression I condone it. Of course, you can do what you like, but you should know the danger.

  • Just finished reading your blog post “Car Seat Makeover” and loved it. Great, practical solutions for traveling – I’m feeling better already. Thanks so much Carol !

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