She pressed the set button on the Honda’s steering wheel and set the cruise control to 70. Finally able to stretch her leg a bit, she circled her right ankle clockwise, then counterclockwise and sailed down I95 heading south to Florida. Traffic flowed easily after EZPass ticked off four dollars for the pleasure of driving through Delaware. It was expensive enough driving down from New Jersey, especially on the Turnpike and then crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge, but four dollars for a moment in that tiny state without any pretty scenery - that was too much! She sailed past Elkton, Maryland where lovers used to run to elope back in the 1920s and ‘30s, past the Chesapeake House with the ubiquitous Starbucks and Cinnabon. Her mouth watered thinking of the plump pastry with its gooey white frosting, but she kept on truckin’. She had miles to go. Signs for Baltimore’s Inner harbor and Fort McHenry Tunnel appeared just as her left thigh started to scream. Three hours into the ride and her quads already had enough. How was she ever going to make the next twenty?
Billy Joel’s voice boomed from the stereo speakers and she rubbed her hands along her jeans, long, deep lines along her thigh as Brenda and Eddie “got an apartment with deep pile carpet and a couple of paintings from Sears.” D.C. approached with the mixing bowl fly-overs and a view of the Potomac with the Washington Monument in the background, but there was nowhere to stop. No Waffle House. No McDonalds, not even a Shell or Exxon station and her quads called to her “get out of the damn car!” She tried to straighten her leg but there wasn’t enough room. If she really wanted to, she could stretch it out but that would mean flooring the engine and crashing into the car in front which she figured wasn’t such a good idea.
A few more miles down the road traffic slowed. An accident on the northbound side caused a “gaper block” on the southbound. Her right foot pressed the brake, then the gas, the brake again, and back and forth making that leg ache almost as much as her left thigh. Finally, the road opened up and after a few miles exit signs announced gas stations, hotels and eateries. She flipped the right blinker and slid into the exit lane. Rubbing her thigh again, pressing hard into the muscle’s knot, she pulled into the Shell station and shut the engine.
If thighs could talk they would have let out a moan as deep as if it came from a wounded animal. She swung her legs out of the car and slowly straightened her knees. Before filling her tank, she lifted her left heel on to the island where the gas tanks stood and gave her hamstrings a stretch.
“Long ride?” asked the woman in jeans and a black V neck on the opposite side of the island. Her Jeep was getting a long drink of Regular. “Me, too,” she said and grabbed her sneaker clad foot behind her and brought it up to her buttocks. “I do this every time I stop for gas.
Our gal in the Honda nodded and wished she’d done the same. From now on, she told herself, I will. I’ll take the extra minute or two and stretch out.
Readers, that’s really all it takes. 20 seconds for each muscle and you’ll arrive at your destination able to walk rather than crawl. Any time you’re on a long car ride you should do the same as these two women. Stretch your hamstrings and quads. Sitting for any length of time shortens those muscles. They want to lengthen. If they could talk they’d demand it. Actually, your muscles do demand to be stretched only they can’t tell you. They do let you know when you haven’t, though, by giving you aches and pains. So whether you’re on a long drive from Massachusetts to Miami or a few hours from San Diego to Santa Monica, be nice to your body.
- Stretch out your hamstrings like the gal in the Honda by putting your heel up on the island. Or, use the curb or open your car door and place your right heel on the edge, toes up. Then lean back pressing your weight onto your back leg and feel the stretch on the underside of the right leg. Repeat for the left leg.
- Just as the woman in the Toyota did, grab your ankle behind you and lift your foot towards your buttocks to feel the stretch in the front of your thigh. Your quadriceps will thank you.
- Stand on the curb or gas tank island and hang your heels off keeping your knees straight stretching out your calves. Nice!
- Don’t forget your arms and chest either. Remember, when you drive your arms are forward and all is contracted in front of you. Open your arms as far as you can, at shoulder height, and stretch them back. It’ll feel sooooo good!
Enjoy your trip wherever it may take you!