“My back is tight!” “I’m so sore!” “Everything hurts!”
How often have you said this at the end of a long RV travel day? I’ve said these things and much worse after driving 8-10 hours a day and feeling like roadkill. And I know better! I’m a traveling yoga teacher and full-time RVer. I was determined to find easy ways to end soreness and travel fatigue in 10 minutes and help my fellow RVers feel fantastic too! I created the:
6 Rest Area Stretches for RV Travel Days Guide
After our second miserable trip rocketing across the US to get to an RV rally, I was determined to change my evil ways. I’m exaggerating by saying “rocketing.” We really couldn’t rocket across the US pulling our Keystone Montana 5th wheel. We love it too much, and it's filled to the brim with all of our most precious belongings. Traveling at the NASCAR speed of 62mph, it takes us more than a week to cross the US. Over a week of sitting, eating poorly, and not hydrating enough took a toll on our bodies. We were not happy campers! We felt pretty bad inside and out.
The insult to the injury part is I do know better!
As The Tripping Yogi, I teach yoga classes at RV rallies/events helping RVers stay fit and flexible on the road. But, like many of us, I failed to practice what I preach in pursuit of getting to our next destination faster. So I’m coming clean right before your eyes. Go ahead and give me the mental slap on the wrist. I deserve it.
Why did this happen? Well, like you, we love the RV life since it's filled with so many great adventures. We were so excited to get to the rally and see old friends that we endured extended periods of driving. The driving aggravated already tight muscles in our low backs, hips, hamstrings, and shoulders. These areas were tight from the days of packing and getting ready for the trip.
Driving the 8-10 hours sooo breaks the RV rules of 2/2/2. Drive 200 miles per day, arrive at your overnight spot by 2:00 pm, and stay a minimum of 2 days. We like to add a fourth 2…two cold beverages after we’re set up.
My partner in crime, the “we” in my story is my husband Peter.
On both trips, we traveled 8 straight days. When we arrived at the rallies, we fell out of the Ford 350 exhausted. Everything hurt and we could barely stand straight. The F-350 is very comfortable for long-distance driving and has heated and air-conditioned seats. While driving we heated the seats to soothe our lower backs and hips, which are areas critical for mobility. The heat gave us a false sense of security.
While it felt good, we foolishly thought the heat would make up for stopping at rest areas or roadsides to stretch. But the long periods of driving and sitting have a compounding effect on your internal and external body functions.
Six symptoms of travel fatigue compounded by extended sitting:
1. decreased blood flow throughout your body
2. poor posture compresses the spine and increases back pain
3. limited range of motion in the joints, especially hip flexors, knees, and ankles
4. hamstrings and quads muscles are shortened and tightened by sitting
5. kidneys and colon don’t get movement reducing your digestive health
6. shallow breathing zaps your oxygen levels creating travel fatigue
There are several more problems, but you get my point!
The next morning the rally began, and I was scheduled to teach an 8:00 am yoga class.
There were 37 RV yogis in the class. By the way, an RV Yogi is someone who is an RVer and practices yoga. I asked the class the following questions about their travel days.
1. traveled for several days straight
2. arrived the day before
3. stopped to stretch during travel
4. planned to stop and stretch during travel
5. ate properly and kept well hydrated during travel
Sadly, I found common themes and bad habits among 32 RV yogis. That’s 86% of the class! Only 5 yogi’s had good habits.
These are themes I collected:
1. traveled for 2+ days straight
2. arrived late the day before
3. hated travel days
4. only stopped to pee and not stretch
5. some have travel urinals and didn’t stop
6. didn’t plan any stops to take a break
7. barely slept (stayed at truck stops)
8. ate junk food full of salt and sugar, but very tasty
9. didn’t keep hydrated because they didn’t want to stop more to pee
Can you relate to this?
Is this you?
Were you checking off the list?
Did you add to the list?
I found out later, 86% was indicative of bad habits shared by rally attendees.
The class laughed that we were all travel-fatigued road warriors! And, proud of it! Well, sort of except for the pain and constipation. We all knew that we should stop, stretch, eat properly and hydrate. Jokingly we said, why not start The Everything Hurts RV Club.
I was bothered by 86% and how poorly we treated our bodies on travel days.
Survey of rally attendees:
At different social events during the rally, I asked people about the quality and planning of their travel days. The majority of folks had the same bad habits. They felt like roadkill when they arrived at their destinations. Many folks commented it took them several days to de-stiffen and recuperate. Membership to The Everything Hurts RV Club was growing quickly!
If you’re saying “I do this too,” you can be a card-carrying member of the Everything Hurts Club. Membership is free.
I spent days surveying as many people as I could on their travel habits. Which areas of their bodies felt most tight and sore from their travel days. I talked to RVers of all ages, genders, and RV rig types. That was a hoot in and of itself. We, road warriors, are quite an eclectic bunch.
One night at happy hour, the bartender pulled me aside and told me stretching and pee stops had never been a topic of happy hour conversation. But now it was all the rage!
With this valuable and reliable information, I knew I was onto something. We all know that bartenders get to hear all the juicy details. I began to formulate a plan on how I could help RVers.
From my surveys, I put together a sequence of stretches of the most common body areas people told me they were stiff after driving and are critical for mobility.
I told my yoga students what I was doing and asked for volunteers to try out the stretch sequences. We devised a makeshift rest area facility and roadside stop simulation.
We used picnic tables, walls, guard rails, trees, and grassy areas. The final consensus was picnic tables made great props to use for stretching regardless if you practiced yoga or not.
A BIG shout out of thanks to my volunteers!
Once the stretches were nailed down, we discussed how often people felt it was realistic for them to stop and stretch. There was no consensus on the time frame.
How often should you stop to be a happy camper:
With no consensus on time, I took to the all-mighty Google and researched medical articles from Harvard Health, Mayo Clinic and Healthline on what happens to the body during prolonged periods of driving and sitting.
I found conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, COPD, digestive disorders, varicose veins, DVT, bad backs, and mental fatigue are all aggravated by sitting too long. Medical advice recommends for the body to receive sustained benefits you should plan to stop for a break about every 2 hours of driving time, which equates to 100 or 150 RV miles.
We stopped every 3 hours for a 15-minute stretch break and felt rejuvenated.
Here's the 6 Rest Area Stretches for RV Travel Days Guide
I developed the guide with the results from the simulation and medical research. Download the guide here, save to your phone the stretches are handy when you stop.
The guide includes 6 quick and easy stretches with photos and instructions. All 6 can be done in 10 minutes. Yep, that's how little time you'll need to rejuvenate yourself. These stretches target the most critical areas of mobility and breathing.
They can be done by anyone. You don’t have to practice yoga to do them!
Critical areas to stretch for internal and external mobility and function:
1. upper, middle and low back
2. hip flexors
4. sides of the body
5. twists for digestion
6. legs and gluteals (bum muscles)
7. deep breathing for fresh oxygen
How to plan your rest stops:
On our 3rd trip across the country, we practiced what I preached. I developed a plan to stop every 3 hours. Since our overall length is 53’ (truck and 5th wheel) we travel mainly by interstate. There are many technologies and map resources to help you plan.
As the Chief Navigator, I use a combination of our Garmin RV 770, an app called iExit (for truckers), and a Rand McNally trucker’s road atlas. I found the easiest way to plan our stops were designated rest areas, roadside stops at interesting places or overlooks, and timed with eating lunch or dinner.
I received an unexpected benefit with the planned stops (drum roll, please) ... I no longer get mad at Peter for blowing by a rest area when I need to stop and he d