Cranberry Physical Therapy

CRANBERRY TWP — While many enjoy visiting friends and family members during the holidays, sitting in a car or on an airplane for hours on end can be uncomfortable, or even painful.

“A lot of the people that come in with issues, it comes back to posture,” said Dale Reckless, a physical therapist based in Cranberry Township with 27 years of experience.

No matter their age or medical condition everyone needs to give their body regular breaks during which they can stretch out during long car trips, Reckless said.

Reckless said he recommends taking a quick break every 1 to 1.5 hours.

People who deprive themselves of breaks or push themselves to drive to their destination as quickly as possible, could end up dealing with back pain, neck pain or headaches once they get there.

“There's no perfect ergonomic position, so what is important is the ability to change positions. Motion is lotion,” he said.

One key stretch everyone should do during these quick breaks is a back extension. This involves placing both one's hands on the lower back and bending back for about 15 seconds, he said.
Many people slouch while sitting in a car, so stretching the back in the opposite direction can help prevent back or neck pain.

To prevent slouching, people can get a lumbar-support roll, a small cushion placed behind their lower back that helps keep the back straight while sitting. Some car seats have a lumbar adjustment, which is typically a knob that when turned expands the part of the seat behind the lower back.
Passengers also should avoid reclining too much, because when they recline their eyes tend to stay fixed on the horizon, which puts their neck in a bad position.

Other beneficial stretches include ankle pumps. By moving your feet up and down from a sitting position, one can stretch out their ankles and keep blood flowing in the feet and lower legs.
People can also roll their shoulders back and forth, which helps them stay loose.
Passengers who spend extended periods of time looking down at a tablet, phone or book might benefit from stretching out their wrists and periodically looking up and making sure to relax and stretch their neck muscles to avoid developing “tech neck.”

Some people, in an effort to limit their need for breaks, will avoid drinking fluids before and during a long drive. This is also counterproductive, because it will lead to dehydration, which can be dangerous.
Not just when traveling, but also at home or at work, people will benefit from taking periodic short breaks to stretch or change their body positioning, he said.
Sacrificing comfort for the sake of getting somewhere faster or getting a job done quicker can sometimes backfire.

“People are afraid it's going to take away from their productivity, but in fact it's just the opposite. Taking regular breaks will make you feel better and in an industrial setting it will help you perform better,” he said.

For more information about posture, stretches or Cranberry Physical Therapy, visit

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