Breaking Bad Driving Habits

What you don't know can hurt! Drivetime Yoga and Stress from Bad Driving Habits

You can’t break a bad habit if you don’t know you have one. With a little bit of awareness and intent you can easily, safely transform the time that you have to spend driving. It’s not the ‘Sunday Drives’ that affect your health as much as the repetitive situations you find yourself in day after day. While your vehicle is hurtling through space on the way to your destination, your body is settling into familiar patterns. Your breathing is most likely very shallow and your spine is either bent, tensed or tilted as you lean on one hip or one arm. Each of these is not a problem in them selves but, repeated over extended periods of time, may take a toll on your health. Yoga Exercises are a great, anti-aging, healthy way of exercising. Gridlock can be stressful for commuters, now you can get by stress free.Doing Yoga in your car with Drivetime Yoga will help greatly.

Julie Garner, Physical Therapist and Ergonomic Consultant, suggests that “when you do something too long, it’s bound to cause wear and tear, stress and strain. You need movement to stay healthy”. Introducing small, easy, yoga exercises into your driving can make a lot of difference. Below are descriptions of 5 different syndromes that can be eased by practicing Drivetime Yoga and using Ergonomic awareness.

Carpal Tunnel and Ulnar Deviation: If you work or play on your computer much, you’re wrists may already ache or you’ve become aware of how to avoid carpal tunnel problems (aggravation of nerves running through the wrist). While driving you’re susceptible to some of the same tensions and in Drivetime Yoga you’ll find several finger and wrist exercises to do while driving to avoid injury. For example, to avoid Ulnar Deviation, don’t bend or tilt your wrists out unnecessarily while holding the steering wheel: hold the wheel with your hands comfortably at the 4 and 8 o’clock positions, keeping your wrists fluid and letting your elbows drop slightly. Always keep in mind to ‘go where you feel the most control’, driving safely and loosen up with a little YoGo from time to time. 

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome:
Imagine ‘cruisers’ low riding or tall drivers with their seats tilted way back and their necks craned forward. Then you have a mental picture of the Goose Neck pose that can lead to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. When you drive with your arms up high or outstretched, it can cause tension in the area at the front of your shoulder and under the collar bone. Nerves and blood vessels pass through there and into the arm, so remember to keep your arms relaxed and your seat comfortably erect, allowing your spine to be supported while easily straight. 

Herniated Disc:
When the spine is flexed, it stretches the discs and if aggravated over time or held for extended periods without relief, the fluids in the disc may weaken and bulge, putting pressure on nerves in the back. This aggravation is more likely when you sit with your seat reclined too far back and your head held too far forward, causing tension at the base of the neck and the shoulders. Again, keep your seat comfortably erect and your spine fairly straight. Imagine your shoulders and head floating easily and evenly over your hips and you should experience less fatigue as well. Drivetime Yoga's low back pain exercise and driving recommendations will provide a great deal of relief.  

Piriformis Syndrome: When you drive with your hip rolled out, tilted towards the door for example, your sciatic nerve is more exposed. Sitting asymmetrically with your weight uneven, puts pressure on nerves that run up your leg and into the hip. Try to avoid the ‘Wallet in Pocket’ habit. Guys, if you keep your wallet in your rear pocket while driving your hips are always at an angle. Create a new habit by finding a safe place in the car that is easily accessible and put your wallet there each time you get into the car. In Drivetime Yoga you’ll find several simple movements that can help relieve tense hips and thighs.

A little bit of Drivetime Yoga can go a long way towards helping you even enjoy your commute time. Always remember to listen to your body and find what works for you and never force a stretch. Drive safely with awareness of your fellow travellers. When you’ve been sitting for a long while, remind yourself to breathe fully and practice small Drivetime Yoga exercises. During your life you’ll probably spend much of your time driving and if ‘your body is like a river’, as Dr. Deepak Chopra has suggested, then keep it flowing by remembering to breathe deeply and stretch often. You’ll be more comfortable, injury averse and arrive at your destination vibrant and energized. 

Copyright Elaine Masters,The YoGo Project, 2007-2011 - Reprint with permission only,

This information is offered for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose or prescribe. Be sure to read the disclaimer at the bottom of the page before taking these suggestions on the road.

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