Three Stretching Exercises to Bring with You on a Summer Road Trip

Summer is right at our fingertips and with that comes weekend getaways and lots of driving. Rather than have an unexpected kink in your neck pop up while you’re trying to enjoy the beach, stay proactive by incorporating a daily stretching routine. Stretching exercises will improve posture, increase blood flow, relieve joint pain, and allow you to sleep peacefully—even if it’s when you’re cooped up in your car.

Below are some helpful stretching exercises you can do while on those cramped, yet fun, summer road trips.

Neck Stretch (Upper Trapezius Stretch)

The trapezius muscles are a group of muscles that stretch across the upper back and neck. This area is often where individuals hold stress and tension, causing it to become tight and sensitive, even creeping up to our skull and causing headaches. The upper trapezius starts at the base of your neck and is a great muscle to target during your stretching routine.

  • Start seated in a seat with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Tip your head to the right side, bringing your right ear towards your shoulder.
  • You may find comfort in bringing your right hand up to the left side of your head and gently pushing down for a deeper stretch.
  • Hold the stretch for 15 seconds and perform five repetitions.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Upper Back Stretch 

In addition to the trapezius muscles, your back is also comprised of the latissimus dorsi, levator scapulae, and rhomboids. All of these muscles support posture, and breathing, and contribute to movements of your torso, neck, shoulders, and arms. Stretching exercises for back muscles will help alleviate the stiffness that comes with sitting still for long periods of time.

  • Start seated with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Interlock hands in front of your body.
  • Push your hands together and press away from you, creating length in your arms and upper back.
  • Round through your upper back.
  • You may find comfort in letting your head down and releasing your neck muscles.
  • Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and perform five repetitions.

Wrist Stretch (Flexor)

Yes, even stretching your wrists will help prevent injury and alleviate symptoms from conditions such as carpal tunnel. We use our hands every day from typing on the keyboard to hitting tennis balls. It’s a small muscle that deserves some TLC.

  • Start seated in a seat with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Place your right arm out in front of you with your palm facing away from you and your fingernails facing toward you.
  • Using your left hand, gently hold on to your fingertips, pulling them back towards you.
  • Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and repeat for five repetitions.
  • Repeat the stretch on the other side. 
  • Another variation is to hold your fingers down with your nails facing outward. Then, incorporate the same steps and motions of stretching your fingers back towards you.

Find Relief with Cawley Physical Therapy

If you make a pit stop during your road trip, you can even try these stretching exercises while standing up. Remember to remain gentle and slow while performing them. Additionally, if you suffer from joint inflammation or other injuries, please consult with a professional on the appropriate recommendations for stretching.

Whether you are stretching your neck or your wrists, the benefits can have a positive ripple effect throughout the rest of your body. Not to mention, it’s a great time to center yourself and be mindful of your body and the areas that have become sensitive or sore. If you or anyone you know needs help with exercise selection, please reach out to Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab at (570)-208-2787 or email