Summer is in full swing, Ta Da! For some of us, that means lots of extra driving – to the beach, to resorts or summer camps for the kids, to family reunions (but hopefully not away from any hurricanes!).

Now that season’s over and there’s less traffic, you can focus on making your time behind the wheel contribute to your fitness instead of setting you back.  All of the basic sitting posture tips (see the “Darla says…” blog ‘Sitting Well’) apply in the car.

Start by loading those bags and packages into the back seat or trunk before you sit in the car, rather than twisting and slinging them into the back seat once you’re inside.

Turn and lower your seat into the car seat if you can, or be sure to maintain your balance and hold your weight securely on your second leg as you get your first one into the car.  Position your seat so you can maintain good posture – not too close or too far from the pedals, if you’re driving, and not too far leaned back.

Once seated, try to maintain your upright posture with weight well distributed on both cheeks…leaning against the door or against your main squeeze too long can throw you off balance!  Guys, if you’re going to be in the car for a while, you might want to get the wallet out of your back pocket to help you sit more comfortably balanced.

Keeping your legs parallel helps strengthen your inner thigh muscles – helping to make everyday activities a work out!  It also keeps pressure off your tailbone and the piriformis muscle that can constrict your sciatic nerve.

One of my clients noticed her tailbone hurt while she was driving home after a long day at a desk.  She’d let her knees fall wide apart, and when she pulled them back parallel, the discomfort stopped!  She had to try it again, spreading her thighs and then bringing them back parallel, to confirm that the pressure on her tailbone was definitely relieved when she was sitting properly.  Small things like that can make a big difference in how you feel at the end of your ride!

Feet should be in front of you, aligned with your knees (not on the dashboard or out the window!).  Try not to overuse your feet when you’re driving – elongate your leg when pushing in the clutch, gas or brake, keeping the foot as relaxed as you can and pointed forward – rather than rotated out.

Hold the steering wheel lightly, without wrapping your thumbs around it in a chokehold.  Easy does it keeps your neck and shoulders relaxed.  While you’re just cruising, try to keep your hands balanced and at a height that doesn’t engage your shoulders, at shoulder height or below, to keep your shoulders lowered and back where they belong.  Steer from the abs, and rotate your body rather than just cranking your neck if you need to look hard to the sides or back.

Keep these tips in mind when you’re in the market for a new car.  That hot sports car may look great, but how will you feel after sitting in it for a long drive?  (And if you figure out how to get in and out of one with a skirt on in a graceful manner, please let me know!)

Darla says…never text while driving! I hope you can make all of your car time workout time!