The Best Workouts for Drivers: Seat Stretches to Combat Sitting All Day


Many drivers work long hours and spend most of that time sitting behind the wheel. While providing an essential service, this type of work unfortunately does not promote movement or activity. When sitting for prolonged periods, muscles can become tight and stiff, straining tendons and ligaments, negatively impacting flexibility, balance, and joints. Studies show that consistent limited activity can result in various health issues.

To combat the lack of activity inherent in driving, it’s important for drivers to take regular breaks from sitting when possible and perform targeted stretches. Stretches can loosen stiff muscles, improve circulation, reduce stress levels, enhance focus, and protect the body from injuries and pain. Just 5 to 10 minutes of activity every hour while driving can make a tremendous difference in muscle tightness, blood flow, and general wellbeing. A consistent stretching practice is essential for drivers, not just for physical health, but for improved safety, concentration, and comfort on the road as well.

If you struggle with constant soreness, tightness, or discomfort from sitting all day, then incorporate some of the simple stretches outlined in this guide. You’ll feel better while driving and after work by taking more proactive care of your body.

Stretches for the Neck and Shoulders

Neck and shoulder discomfort are common among drivers who sit for long periods of time. By incorporating these simple stretches into your routine, you can ease tension and prevent pain from developing.

Chin Tucks

Lie back or sit upright and tilt your head forward slightly, keeping a long neck. Bring your chin straight down towards your chest as if to make a double chin, feeling a stretch along the back of your neck. Hold for 3 counts and release. Repeat 5 times per set.

Shoulder Rolls

Begin seated or standing with shoulders relaxed. Lift both shoulders up towards your ears then roll them upwards, backwards, downwards, and finally to the front before lifting back up to the starting position. Perform 2 sets of 5 shoulder rolls, alternating directions between sets.

Neck Stretches

Sit or stand tall and begin by slowly tipping your right ear down towards your right shoulder until you feel a stretch on the left side of your neck. Hold for 3 counts, then lift your head back to center. Repeat on the left side. Complete 5 slow neck stretches to each side, using controlled motions and focusing on proper posture while avoiding any sudden or straining movements.

Stretches for the Back

Sitting for long periods can cause back pain and stiffness. Two helpful back stretches that can be done while seated are the seated twist and the cat-cow pose.

Seated Twist

  • Sit up tall with feet flat on the floor.
  • Place your right hand on your left knee and grip your left armrest with your left hand.
  • Twist your upper body to the left as you breathe in.
  • Hold for 5 slow, deep breaths.
  • Repeat on the other side, placing left hand on right knee and twisting right.

Twisting gently mobilizes your spine and engages the core abdominal muscles to support your back. Go only as far as feels comfortable.

Cat-Cow Pose

  • Sit with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Place hands on your knees with fingers spread wide.
  • Inhale and tilt pelvis forward while lifting your heart and gazing up, arching your back gently.
  • Exhale and tilt pelvis back, rounding your upper back and tucking chin slightly towards chest.
  • Repeat flowing back and forth slowly 5-10 times.

Cat-cow stretches and massages the entire back while activating muscles and mobilizing the spine. Remember to breathe deeply throughout.

These two seated stretches help counteract poor posture from sitting, gently strengthening and realigning the back. Perform them several times throughout the day for relief.

Stretches for the Hips

Keeping your hips flexible is critical for drivers who are sitting all day. Tight hips can contribute to lower back pain and poor posture. Two great stretches to target your hips include the seated butterfly stretch and forward folds. These can be easily done during breaks while you are still in your driver’s seat.

Seated Butterfly Stretch

  1. Sit up straight in your seat with your back against the chair. Bring the soles of your feet together and rest your feet on the chair seat. Use your elbows to gently press your thighs and knees toward the floor.

  2. Keep your back straight, drop your shoulders down and lean forward to increase the stretch in your inner thigh muscles.

  3. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds or more. Repeat two to three times, depending on how tight you feel.

Forward Folds

  1. Bend your right knee, place your right ankle on your left thigh so your right shin is parallel to the floor. For more support, you can slide your hands under your right thigh to hold it in place at the knee.

  2. Slowly fold at your hips until you feel a stretch in your right glute and hip. Find your maximum comfortable stretch but avoid rounding your back. Hold for 30 seconds or longer.

  3. Repeat on the left leg. Then try with both legs extended straight out with your torso folded over your lap. Keep your back flat as you fold forward from your hips.

I aimed to provide clear instructions and details on two great hip stretches that can be performed while seated. Please let me know if you would like me to expand or modify anything.

Stretches for the Legs

Prolonged sitting while driving can lead to tightness and pain in the legs. Here are some helpful stretches to target the quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings.

Quad Stretches

  • The standing quad stretch works to stretch the quad muscle at the front of your thigh. Stand upright, bend one knee and grab your foot to pull it up behind you toward your buttocks. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
  • For the seated quad stretch, sit tall on the edge of a chair. Pull one foot in toward your buttocks and grasp your ankle with the same side hand. Gently pull your heel toward your body, feeling the stretch in front of your thigh. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.

Calf Stretches

  • The standing calf stretch targets your calf muscles. Stand an arms length from a wall, step forward with one leg while keeping the back leg straight. Keep your feet flat and lean into the wall to stretch the calf of your back leg. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
  • For the seated calf stretch, sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you and press the ball of your foot into the floor to flex. Use a strap or towel and place it around the ball of that same foot, gently pulling the strap toward you while keeping your foot flexed. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Hamstring Stretches

  • The standing hamstring stretch helps lengthen the hamstrings at the back of your thighs. Stand with feet hip-width apart, step forward with one leg, and hinge at the hips to fold forward, reaching your hands toward the floor. Hold for 30 seconds, feeling a stretch in back of your straight leg, then switch legs.
  • The seated hamstring stretch is done sitting on the ground with both legs straight out in front of you. Reach toward one foot, flexing that knee slightly while keeping your back straight. Hold for 30 seconds and feel the stretch in the back of that thigh, then repeat on the opposite leg.

Stretches for the Arms and Wrists

Drivers often experience tightness in their arms and limited mobility in their wrists from holding the steering wheel for long periods. Regular stretches can help relax the muscles and increase the range of motion in the wrists and arms.

Wrist Flexions

  • Extend one arm straight out in front of you at shoulder height. Flex your wrist down towards the floor and hold for 5 seconds. Then flex your wrist upwards towards the ceiling and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times for each wrist.

Overhead Reaches

  • Interlace your fingers together and reach up towards the ceiling, palms facing outward. Push up as high as is comfortable and hold for 5 seconds before slowly lowering back down. Repeat 2-3 times on each side.

Perform these simple stretches for the arms and wrists regularly throughout your drive or shift to keep the joints mobile and prevent aching or fatigue. Don’t forget to stretch both sides evenly. Consistently stretching can improve performance and prevent injury.

Stretches for Better Posture

When we sit down for long periods in the car, our posture can get lazy and rounded, leading to strain, aches and pains, especially in the neck, shoulders and back.

Doing stretches that focus on opening up the chest and shoulders, retracting the shoulder blades, and holding the chin in can counteract poor posture and muscular imbalances from sitting all day.

Here are some suggested stretches:

Chin tucks

  • Look straight head
  • Keep your shoulders down.
  • Slowly pull your chin in and down with the neck muscles, without looking down.
  • Hold for 5 seconds then release.
  • Repeat 10-20 times.

Chest openers with hands behind back

  • Clasp your hands behind your back.
  • Straighten your arms.
  • Raise your arms up and back to open the shoulder and chest.
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 2-3 times.

Shoulder blade squeezes

  • Sit or stand tall with good posture and shoulders down.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together by bringing your elbows back.
  • Hold for 3 seconds then release.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Sample Stretching Routines

Stretching regularly can greatly benefit any driver who spends hours sitting behind the wheel on a daily basis. But oftentimes it can be difficult to find the time to stretch. So here are three sample stretching routines that fit a variety of schedules:

5 Minute Stretching Routine

If you’re in a hurry, you can still get in some effective stretches in 5 minutes or less:

  • Neck rotations – Stand up straight and slowly rotate your neck to the left and to the right 10 times in each direction.
  • Upward wrist flex – Extend your arms out straight with palms up. Bend your wrists upwards and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
  • Ankle circles – Lift one foot off the floor, circle your ankle 10 times clockwise and 10 times counter-clockwise. Repeat for the other foot.

10 Minute Stretching Routine

With 10 dedicated minutes, you can stretch some major muscle groups:

  • Complete the full 5 minute routine above.
  • Standing quad stretch – Stand tall and bring one foot backwards towards your backside and gently pull your ankle towards your glutes until you feel a stretch in your thigh. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides. Repeat twice on each leg.
  • Mid-back rotations – Sit up tall with feet flat on the floor, fold your arms across your chest and slowly twist your upper body to the left and to the right. Repeat 10 times in each direction.

15 Minute Stretching Routine

With 15 minutes, you’ll have time for all of the above plus deep tissue hip and hamstring stretches. Here’s one to try:

  • Complete the 5 and 10 minute routines above.
  • Lying leg raises – Lie flat on your back, cross one ankle over the other knee and grab behind the upper thigh. Gently pull the leg towards your chest until you feel the stretch in the back of your thigh. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat three times on each side.

Focus on your breathing as you stretch. It may be helpful to set a timer so you don’t spend too much time on one stretch. Mix up the order and try new stretches to challenge your body in different ways. Most importantly, consistency is key to gaining flexibility and reducing muscle tightness over time. Commit to stretching after every long shift behind the wheel. Your body will thank you!

Making Stretching a Habit

Making time for regular stretching can be difficult for busy drivers, but there are a few key ways to turn it into a habit and make it more enjoyable:

  • Schedule time for stretching. Set aside 10-15 minutes for stretching at fixed times during your day, such as at every refueling stop or at the start and end of each driving shift. Add stretching sessions to your calendar to create an intent to make time for it.

  • Set reminders. Use phone alerts, app notifications, or sticky notes in your vehicle to remind yourself to stretch. For example, set a daily reminder at times you intend to stretch or install an app that prompts you. This keeps stretching front of mind.

  • Make it fun and engaging. Do stretches along with an enjoyable playlist or podcast, or stretch together with other drivers at truck stops. Seeing progress and results can also keep you motivated. Try tracking flexibility improvements or how stretches make parts of your body feel better.

Regular stretching pays dividends over time for drivers. Building these habits makes it easy to reap the recovery and health benefits. Your body will thank you down the road for taking time to care for it each day.


Sitting for long periods of time while driving can lead to muscle tightness and soreness. That’s why it’s crucial to follow the suggested stretches outlined in this piece.

Doing these stretches for the neck, shoulders, back, hips, legs, arms, and wrists can provide much needed relief for drivers. Stretching helps improve flexibility and blood flow to muscles that may feel stiff from sitting.

Additionally, incorporating stretches into your daily routine keeps the body limber and promotes good posture. With improved posture, you’re less likely to experience aches and pains even after driving for hours on end.

In summary, taking just a few minutes to do targeted stretches allows drivers to feel looser, more relaxed, and less fatigued. The sample stretching routines provide easily accessible exercises that can be done right from the driver’s seat. Making stretching a regular habit is key to combatting the effects of sitting for extended periods while driving.

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