Road Trip Remedies: How to Prevent Back Pain and Improve Posture During Long Car Rides

Road Trip Remedies How to Prevent Back Pain and Improve Posture During Long Car Rides
Road Trip Remedies How to Prevent Back Pain and Improve Posture During Long Car Rides

We are starting to venture out and take those long-awaited family road trips. When I think of road trips, all I can picture is the packed-down station wagon from the "National Lampoon's Family Vacation" movie. When my family and I hit the road, we are not too far off from that setup. Our car is completely packed; there is very little stretching room, and, yes, we always forget something even though we are way overpacked.

The older I get, the more likely I am to experience neck and/or back pain during these long hours in the car. Over the years of road tripping across this beautiful country, I've come up with a few tricks that help me avoid the "travel knots" in my body.

I'm usually the passenger, but most of these can be done when you hit the stoplight if you’re the driver.

Are long car rides bad for your back?

Long automobile trips can be difficult on your back, particularly if you already experience back pain. Long periods of time spent driving can cause stiffness, pain, and possibly even muscular spasms in the back muscles. Here are some important things to think about:

Comfort and Posture: 

It's critical to maintain proper posture throughout the ride. Keep your chin pulled in so that your head rests straight on top of your spine. Sit up straight with your legs slightly higher than your hips. Sitting on anything, including your phone, wallet, or anything else, could cause spinal misalignment. To better support the contour of the inward curve in your lower back, use a small cushion or roll up a scarf and insert it between your lower back and the seat.

Moving around and stretching are important because prolonged sitting in a car can make your back muscles stiff and sore. Ideally, you should stop for at least 15 minutes after every 2 hours of driving. If you frequently experience back pain, you might want to take breaks more frequently—every 30 to 60 minutes, for example. Take these opportunities to stretch out of the car. Movement increases blood flow, which enables your lower back to receive nutrients and oxygen.

On a lengthy road trip, many people find that using heat or cold therapy is an effective approach to reducing pain. Heat therapy can aid in boosting blood flow and relaxing the muscles, while cold therapy can aid in reducing edema and inflammation.

Proper Lifting Technique: 

You'll probably be carrying luggage if you're taking a road trip. Back problems are frequently caused by improper lifting techniques. In order to prevent injury, it's important to lift weights properly and not too much. Keep your back straight and the thing you are lifting close to your body.

Consult a Professional: 

If your back discomfort persists despite using the advice above, it may be wise to speak with a specialist, such as a physical therapist. They can evaluate the condition of your spine and address any issues or prospective issues before they worsen.

Keep in mind that this is general advice and may not apply to everyone. Before starting a long automobile trip, it is always important to speak with a healthcare provider if you suffer from persistent back pain or another medical problem.

See this post: 7 Tips to Alleviate Back Pain on Your Road Trips 

What is the best posture for long car rides?

Keeping a decent posture while driving a long distance might help avoid back pain and discomfort. For optimal posture during long automobile travels, consider the following advice:

Adjust your seat so that you can comfortably and without strain reach the pedals, steering wheel, and controls. The height of your knees should be equal to or higher than that of your hips.

Back Support

The seat should provide good support for your back. To support the organic curve of your lower back, use a cushion or lumbar roll. Some automobiles come equipped with adjustable lumbar support.

Maintain an erect, neutral position for your head. To prevent excessive up- or down-tilt, the headrest should support the center of your back.

Your shoulders should be at a comfortable angle against the back of the seat. Do not stoop forward.

Maintain a comfortable bending angle with your arms while holding the steering wheel. The 9 and 3 o'clock locations on the steering wheel are advised by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Foot Position

To prevent stress from being transferred to your lower back, your feet should be positioned correctly on a stable surface. Your knees should be bent at a right angle.

How can I make my long rides more comfortable

Try these stretches from the video before your trip or during stops. 

Click to play

Try these tips while in the car at red lights if you are driving or anytime if you are the passenger. 

Posture Check

When you start to feel uncomfortable, the first thing you want to do is do a Posture Check. Make sure you are equally weighted on both sitz bones, your shoulders are relaxed, your neck is long, and the back of your head is positioned on your headrest. You might want a professional, such as your physical therapist, to assess your posture while seated in your car seat. Most car seats are not designed with good body mechanics in mind. Once you feel you are in your ideal posture, check your mirrors. They probably need to be moved up. In the future, if you can't see out of your mirrors, you’re probably not sitting in your optimal upright posture.

If you still have discomfort in your back, you might need to have a small pillow or rolled-up towel handy. Try padding your low or mid-back to see if you can get any relief. I try to keep a small towel in my car just for this purpose. If you don't have a towel handy, you can use a book, purse, or even a water bottle.

Now that you've found your optimal upright posture, let's do a few stretches.

Ear Lifts

While keeping your gaze forward and your neck long, think of lifting one ear up to the ceiling. At the same time, keep both shoulders down. You should feel a stretch on that side of the neck. Hold this stretch for a minimum of two breath cycles. Repeat on the other side.

Chin Tucks

Drop your gaze towards your belly button and curl your chin towards your sternum. Think of rounding around the front of your neck instead of squishing it. Keeping this in mind helps you stay longer in the neck and prevents you from sinking your posture.

Scalene Stretches

Place four fingers on your left clavicle. Gently pull the skin down and, at the same time, look away from your hand (right) and up. You can also move your jaw from side to side to feel an additional stretch. Repeat this on the other side.

Upper Back Stretch

Reach both arms straight in front of you as if you are going to reach out the front window. With your palms facing you, interlace your fingers. Exhale, round your upper back, and try to pull your hands apart by reaching your elbows wide. Flip your hands so your palms face away, and repeat.

Chest Stretch

Inhale, bend your elbows, and press them into your seat. Allow your scapulas to glide down your back and your gaze to float up. Widen your chest and keep the front and back of your neck long. Exhale and release the stretch. Inhale and repeat the stretch.

Lumbar Flexion and Extension

Feel your sitz bones on your seat. Inhale and reach your shin bones straight down into the seat. Exhale and curl your lumbar spine, reaching your sitz bones towards your knees. Inhale and return to the top of your sitz bones. Exhale, extend your lumbar spine, and reach your sitz bones away from your knees, keeping your belly and low back long.


Inhale and lengthen your spine, keeping your shoulders relaxed. Exhale, rotate, and look over your right shoulder. Be sure to stay heavy on your right shin bone. Inhale and return to your starting position. Exhale and rotate, looking over your left shoulder.

Hopefully, the next time you find yourself on a long road trip, these few stretches will help you stay loose and pain-free.

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding and Alleviating Foot Pain. Feet Don’t Fail Me Now!

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding and Alleviating Foot Pain. Feet Don’t Fail Me Now
The Ultimate Guide to Understanding and Alleviating Foot Pain. Feet Don’t Fail Me Now

So many clients come to me with pain or issues originating in their feet that I always say, "Thank God He gave us two of them!" Our feet have a huge impact on our whole body, but most people don’t give them a second thought until a problem arises.

Anatomically, the fascia in the foot is connected to the calf, the hamstring, the glutes, the low back, the thoracic spine, the neck, and all the way up over the head to the eyebrows. If you drew a line connecting all of these spots, you would be connecting what Thom Meyers, the author of Anatomy Trains, calls the Superficial Back Line.

How can I relieve my foot pain?

Let's start with a few basics. One of these things, or a combination of them, may be the secret sauce to relieving your foot pain.

1. Rest 

If you've been on your feet a lot, resting and elevating your feet can help reduce inflammation and ease discomfort.

2. Ice 

Applying a cold pack or ice to the painful area for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day, can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

3. Over-the-counter pain relievers

Non-prescription medicines like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve foot pain. However, these should be used responsibly and only as directed.

4. Footwear

Wearing shoes that are comfortable and provide good support can make a big difference. You might consider shoes with a wide toe box, arch support, and a cushioned sole. Orthotic inserts can also be helpful.

5. Stretching and strengthening exercises

Some types of foot pain can be eased with regular stretching and strengthening exercises. For example, exercises designed to stretch and strengthen the Achilles tendon and the muscles in your feet and lower legs can help if you have plantar fasciitis.

6. Weight management

Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the amount of stress on your feet.

7. Physical Therapy

A physical therapist can provide you with a personalized exercise regimen that targets the specific areas causing your foot pain.

8. Massage

Massage can improve circulation, stimulate muscles, reduce pain, and promote relaxation. You can do this yourself or hire a professional.

It's important to know the cause of your foot pain in order to effectively treat it. The cause could be anything from a simple sprain to a more complex issue like plantar fasciitis or a stress fracture. It's always best to consult a healthcare provider for a diagnosis if your foot pain is severe or if these basic self-care measures don't help.

What are the different types of foot pain?

Foot pain can be a result of different conditions that affect various parts of the foot. Here are some common types of foot pain and their causes:

1. Heel Pain

This could be due to plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. Another cause could be Achilles tendinitis, an overuse injury of the Achilles tendon, the band of tissue that connects the calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to your heel bone.

2. Arch Pain

This can result from a condition called flat feet or fallen arches, where the arch of the foot is flat and the entire foot touches the floor when standing. It could also be due to plantar fasciitis.

3. Ball of Foot Pain (Metatarsalgia)

This is often caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes, high-impact activities, or underlying conditions. Morton's neuroma, which involves a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes, is another potential cause.

4. Toe Pain

This could be from ingrown toenails, bunions (a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe), hammer toe (a deformity where the toe bends or curls downward instead of pointing forward), or gout (a type of arthritis that usually affects the big toe).

5. Side of the Foot Pain

This might be due to an ankle sprain or a fracture, or conditions like cuboid syndrome, where the cuboid bone is dislocated.

6. Top of Foot Pain

This could be due to extensor tendonitis, which is inflammation of the tendons that run along the top of the foot, or a stress fracture in one of the five metatarsal bones that run along the top of the foot.

7. Pain in the Back of the Foot

This is often due to Achilles tendinitis or bursitis, an inflammation of the small fluid-filled sacs that cushion the Achilles tendon.

Remember that foot pain can be a complex issue, and these are just potential causes. Anyone experiencing persistent foot pain should consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

The Back Line Fascia Test

One way to experience this connection is to perform a self-scan with a Back-Line Fascia Test. Start by bending over and touching your toes. You might not reach them, but that’s okay. When you’re down there, do a body scan. Ask yourself a few questions:

Where are you tight or restricted?

Where are you flexible?

Do your hands drape over evenly?

Are you feeling any discomfort?

Now, come up from this position and move to the Foot Release Work described below.

For the purposes of the facial test, you only want to release one foot at a time. After you’ve completed the release work on the first foot, you redo the Back-Line Fascia Test.

Upon redoing your body scan, you might notice your tightness, discomfort, and/or restrictions on the side you did the release work are gone or drastically decreased.

What might be more noticeable is the drape of your hands.

The side you did the release work on will be much closer to the floor than the side that you have not released yet. 

This little experiment proves the existence of Thom Meyers Superficial Back Line.

After completing the whole process of the scan and release work on one side of the body, move to the other foot.

Cheryl Dunn doing some stretching.

Foot Release Work

Draw three imaginary lines down your foot, with all three starting at the heel and moving towards the toes.One is traveling down the middle of the foot; one goes along the inside of the foot; and one goes along the outer edge of the foot.

Grab a small ball. I like to use a foot rubz ball, but a small golf ball or a tennis ball will work. The foot rubz ball and golf ball will be more accurate, but also a little more tender to the fascia in the foot versus using a tennis ball.

Start by placing the ball at the heel on the middle line. Gently unweight the standing leg (this is the leg that does not have a ball under it) and put at least 75% of your weight into the ball. Repeat this unweighting three times.

pic 1 Foot-Release-Photo

Then move the ball slightly forward towards the toes, staying on the middle line. Repeat the unweighting movement three times in this spot.

Continue to move the ball up the middle line, unweighting three times in each spot and hitting at least four spots along the line.

After you have completed this with the middle line, begin doing it on the inside line and the outside line. Upon completing all three lines, redo your Back-Line Fascia Test.

pic 2 foot-rubz-image-for-article


Upon retesting, you might notice the arm on the same side you released the foot hangs much longer than the side you have not released. You might also feel a little looser in the low back or hamstrings. What might be most obvious is how different the foot itself feels.

Now it’s time to repeat all of this on the second foot! 

Daily Routine

I know this little foot release program is very time-consuming. Therefore, it’s hard to get people to do this too often. I would recommend this routine two to three times a week in the beginning if you are trying to get rid of plantar fasciitis or even low back pain.

But on a daily basis, I recommend something that is a little quicker and simpler. As soon as I get out of the shower, I put lotion or oil on my feet with the intention of giving them a little love. You can massage the sole, then split each toe forward and back. Then interlace your fingers between each toe to laterally spread the web of the toes. This little extra attention to your feet will help you stand a little taller!

cheryl dunn doing some stretching on her toes
cheryl dunn doing some stretching on her toes
cheryl dunn doing some stretching on her toes

With a little time and TLC, your feet will feel better in no time!

The Mayo Clinic's website has an extensive collection of health-related information, including a section dedicated to foot pain. Here is a link to their page on foot pain: Foot pain

Physical Therapy Studies:

Optimizing Posture for Alleviating Workplace Neck and Back Pain

Optimizing Posture for Alleviating Workplace Neck and Back Pain
Optimizing Posture for Alleviating Workplace Neck and Back Pain

Recently, I received an inquiry from a patient at my clinic that resonated with an issue faced by many individuals in the modern workplace. Jane, a 46-year-old professional from Austin, sought advice on managing her recently diagnosed Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). Jane's problem was that, despite having a wrist brace to aid her while working on the computer, her poor posture persisted, creating additional discomfort.

This concern regarding posture is a frequent topic among my patients. Many overlook the significant impact that maintaining good posture can have on their overall health and wellbeing. They fail to understand the transformative power posture holds over their everyday lives. 

Why is good posture important?

In the contemporary world, we spend a substantial amount of time at work, often seated or in stationary positions for extended periods. These situations have been exacerbated by the surge in remote working, leading many to spend even more time glued to their workstations and computer screens.

When one consistently maintains poor posture throughout the day, it gradually accumulates, eventually leading to detrimental effects on health in the long run.

Poor Phone Posture Optimizing posture

Poor Phone Posture

Good Phone Posture Optimizing posture

Good Phone Posture

What tips can help me improve my posture?

Here are several insightful strategies to improve posture and transform it into a consistent, healthy habit, ultimately benefiting your lifestyle and wellbeing:

Maintaining a Straight Posture

This might appear to be obvious advice, but it is paramount to keep your back as upright as possible. Tailor your seat to ensure you aren't leaning too far back or hunching forward. Utilize the ergonomic features of your chair, designed specifically for support and maintaining a natural spinal alignment.

Frequent Breaks

Set a reminder to stand up and move away from your desk every 30 minutes. It helps maintain productivity and counteracts the fatigue resulting from prolonged, uninterrupted sitting. Regular mini-breaks also provide the opportunity to readjust your posture.

Proper Standing Posture

If your job involves standing, ensure you're doing it correctly. Many have a tendency to lean on one leg and rest their elbows on the table. While it may seem comfortable, it places unnecessary strain on certain muscles during these 'rest' periods. Aim to distribute your weight evenly across both legs and maintain a tall, upright stance.

Spinal Movement

Whether you are sitting or standing, take a moment to engage in movements that promote spinal flexibility. Arching, curling, twisting, and side-bending can all contribute to a healthier, more flexible spine.

While wrist braces can provide some relief from wrist pain associated with RSI, they do little to improve spinal posture. Your spine's posture, however, directly affects the position of your wrist and hand when using a computer.

What is the best posture for desk work?

Maintaining the right posture during desk work is crucial for minimizing strain and discomfort. The best posture for desk work is often referred to as "neutral posture," a comfortable working posture in which your joints are naturally aligned.

Poor Posture Optimizing posture

Poor Posture

Good Posture Optimizing posture

Good Posture

Here are some key points to achieve this:

1. Feet

Keep your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest if they can't reach the floor.

2. Knees

Make sure your knees are equal to or slightly lower than your hips, with your thighs parallel to the floor.

3. Hips

Your hips should be as far back as they can go in the chair.


Use a chair with good lumbar support to maintain the natural inward curve of your lower back. If your chair lacks sufficient support, consider using a cushion or rolled-up towel. 

5. Shoulders

Keep your shoulders relaxed and not hunched, with your upper arms hanging naturally at the sides of your body.

6. Elbows

Elbows should be bent at a 90- to 120-degree angle and close to your body. The armrests of your chair should support your arms enough to lift your shoulders slightly. 

7. Wrists

Keep your wrists straight and in line with your forearms. Avoid bending your wrists up, down, or to the sides. 

8. Screen

Position your monitor directly in front of you, about an arm's length away, with the top of the screen at, or slightly below, eye level. Your eyes should look slightly downward when viewing the middle of the screen.

9. Keyboard and Mouse

Place your keyboard and mouse close to each other and within easy reach, so you don't have to stretch to use them. Your wrists should be straight when using your keyboard and mouse.

10. Head

Keep your head level or slightly bent forward, balanced, and in line with your torso. Avoid twisting your neck or leaning forward.

Remember, even with perfect posture, sitting for prolonged periods can be harmful. Make sure to take regular breaks to stand up, move around, and stretch your muscles. Also, consider incorporating sit-stand workstations or active seating, such as exercise balls, to add movement and variety to your workday.

How do I correct my posture when sitting at my desk?

Correcting your desk posture involves a combination of personal habits, office furniture adjustments, and simple exercises. Here are several effective strategies to help you improve your desk posture:

1. Adjust Your Chair

Start by setting up your chair correctly. Your feet should rest flat on the floor, and your knees should be at or slightly lower than hip level. The backrest of your chair should support your entire spine. If your chair doesn't provide sufficient lumbar support, consider adding a lumbar roll or cushion to support the natural curve of your lower back.

2. Mind Your Monitor

Your computer monitor should be at a comfortable viewing height. You should not need to excessively strain your neck to view your monitor. Ideally, the top of the screen should be at or slightly below eye level when you are sitting up straight. If your monitor is too low, consider a monitor stand or a stack of books to raise it to the proper height.

3. Position Your Keyboard and Mouse

 Your keyboard and mouse should be close enough that you don't have to stretch to reach them. When typing or using your mouse, your wrists should be straight, your upper arms close to your body, and your hands at or slightly below the level of your elbows. Consider using a wrist rest to prevent straining your wrists.

4. Take Regular breaks

 No matter how perfect your workstation setup is, sitting in one position for extended periods can lead to muscle fatigue and tension. Every 30 minutes, take a mini break to stand up, stretch, and move around.

5. Practice Mindful sitting

Regularly check in with your body throughout the day. Are you slumping or leaning to one side? Is your head poking forward? Whenever you notice poor posture, correct it.

6. Engage Your Core

Strengthening your core muscles can help support your spine and improve your posture over time. Simple exercises such as bridges, planks, and seated leg lifts can help.

7. Stretch Regularly

Regular stretching can help prevent the muscle stiffness and discomfort associated with prolonged sitting. Neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, chest stretches, and gentle spinal twists can all help keep your muscles flexible and your joints lubricated.

How do I stop my shoulders from hunching at my desk?

The tendency to hunch your shoulders while working at a desk can lead to discomfort and potential health issues over time. Here are some strategies to help you stop hunching and improve your shoulder posture:

1. Desk Ergonomics

Ensure your workspace is set up to promote good posture. Your computer monitor should be at eye level, your keyboard and mouse within easy reach, and your chair height adjusted so your feet are flat on the ground.

2. Shoulder Positioning

Practice pulling your shoulder blades back and down. This engages the muscles in your upper back and keeps your shoulders from rounding forward.

3. Regular Movement

Take frequent breaks from your desk to stretch and move around. This helps prevent muscle fatigue and stiffness that can lead to hunching.

4. Strengthening Exercises

Incorporate exercises into your routine that strengthen your upper back, shoulders, and core. This could include exercises like rows, reverse flys, and planks.

5. Stretching

Regularly stretch your chest, shoulders, and back to improve flexibility and reduce tension. Gentle stretches like doorway stretches, shoulder rolls, and neck stretches can be helpful.

6. Mindfulness

 Be aware of your posture throughout the day. Regularly check in with your body and correct your posture if you notice yourself starting to hunch.

7. Ergonomic Supports

Consider using ergonomic supports like lumbar pillows or a chair with proper back support. These can help maintain proper spinal alignment and prevent hunching.

8. Posture Correctors

Devices like posture correctors or wearable tech can remind you to sit up straight and avoid hunching. These should be used as a last resort and not relied on for long-term posture improvement.

For further reading on posture, I recommend the Mayo Clinic blog: Good Posture Tips. It contains a wealth of knowledge about the importance of posture and the best ways to improve it.

In terms of scientific studies that support the importance of good posture, consider the following:

These studies highlight the value of good posture and the importance of incorporating these strategies in the workplace. Make good posture a priority, and you're on your way to a healthier, more comfortable work life.

In conclusion, my advice to Jane and anyone facing similar issues is to promptly start implementing these strategies and remain committed to them over the long term.

Good posture isn't merely a physical attribute; it's an embodiment of your commitment to a healthier lifestyle.

Remember, Good Posture Becomes You!

Read More:

Revolutionize Your Running Overcoming Injuries & Boosting Performance with the Blue Belt Technique

Revolutionize Your Running Overcoming Injuries & Boosting Performance with the Blue Belt Technique

Cheryl’s Personal Story: Running at 50

Running has been a constant in my life since I was in high school, but it hasn't always been easy. I've faced injuries and setbacks along the way, but I've also learned how to adapt and make changes to keep running as I've gotten older.

I was told to stop running after a tailbone injury in high school and again after a snowboard injury in my mid-20s. But I didn't let those setbacks keep me down. Instead, I found ways to modify my running routine and incorporate other exercises to support my body.

Now, at 50 years old, I continue to run 5 miles in the rolling hills with my boxer five days a week. How do I do it? By incorporating all the tips and strategies listed in this blog, as well as Pilates, GYROTONIC(R), and GYROKINESIS(R) exercises, into my exercise routine over 20 years ago. These exercises have helped me build strength, flexibility, and endurance, all of which have contributed to my ability to keep running.

I firmly believe that it's never too late to start taking care of your body and incorporating exercise into your routine. If you're dealing with an injury or other limitations, don't give up on exercise altogether; instead, find ways to modify and adapt your routine to work with your body's needs.


Running Tips for Injury Prevention and Better Performance

Blue Belt Technique

One of the first things I teach my fitness clients is to put on their "Blue Belt".

In studio, I put a nylon belt around the bones of their pelvis and squeeze it pretty snugly so they could understand the sensation. It just so happens to be blue, which is why we call it the "blue belt".

When this belt is around the pelvis, it simulates the activation of three main muscle groups: 

1. The Transverse Abdominus 

2. The Pelvic Floor and 

3. The Multifidus Muscles along the spine. 

When these muscles are active, there is a support system in the body that facilitates relaxation in the neck and shoulders, effortless upright posture, and equal weight distribution among the feet. It evokes a feeling of physical peace.

Everyone’s first question is "Can we wear this all the time?". "NO!" If you were to wear this belt all the time, that muscle group would become weak and not support you at all. That’s a recipe for disaster.

At home, you can use any belt around your pelvis to simulate this tool. It can sometimes be difficult to get the belt tight enough on your own, so if you have the option, you might ask a buddy to help with this step.

Now, here’s the real goal: After you take your belt off, can you put your imaginary belt on? Remember the sensation and engage the same muscle groups. By doing this, you begin to train your muscles to support a posture that will decrease the stress on the body. This is true for all your daily activities, but especially when you’re exercising.

Remember the next time you’re out running to put on your imaginary "blue belt."


Lean Forward Slightly While Running

My second tip is to slightly lean forward when you run. Most running coaches recommend this lean, but the one thing that needs clarity is the place in your body where this lean is coming from.

Be careful not to lean forward from the hips or waist. If you lean from the hips or waist, it can put too much strain on your low back. Rather, this lean should be at the ankle joint.

Practice this standing still. Put on your imaginary belt, and then slightly lean forward from the ankle. It gives you the feeling of falling forward. If you’re doing this while you run, it will propel you forward. When you are being propelled forward during your run, your speed will increase.

Now, let's dive into some more tips on running.

Running is a well-liked workout that can aid with cardiovascular health, mood enhancement, and calorie burning. Whether you're an experienced runner or just getting started, it's crucial to take precautions to avoid injuries and enhance your performance. In this blog post, we'll provide some running safety and efficiency advice. Warm up and cool down properly.


Warming Up Before a Run

Before a run, warming up can help your body get ready for the physical demands of running, lower your risk of injury, and boost performance. Dynamic stretching should come after a brief round of light aerobic activity, such as jumping jacks or stationary jogging. In order to develop flexibility and mobility, dynamic stretching entails extending your joints through their complete range of motion. Leg swings, hip circles, and lunges are some effective dynamic stretches for runners.

It's crucial to cool down with some easy workouts and static stretching after your run. To increase flexibility and avoid muscular tightness, static stretching involves keeping a stretch in a still position for 30 seconds. Hamstring, calf, and quad stretches are a few effective static stretches for runners.

Strengthen Your Muscles and Core

Your running form can be improved, injury risk can be decreased, and performance can be increased by having strong muscles and a stable core. Planks, lunges, hip bridges, and squats are effective workouts for runners. To increase strength and power, you can also integrate resistance training with weights or resistance bands.

Gradually Increase Your Mileage and Intensity

To prevent overuse injuries and develop your endurance, it's crucial to gradually increase your mileage and intensity. As a general guideline, you should only increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10% per week. Interval training, hill repeats, and tempo runs are other ways to change the intensity of your workouts.

Wear Proper Shoes and Gear

Wearing the right footwear and accessories can help improve performance and lower the risk of injury. Look for running shoes that are supportive, cushioned, and stable for your foot type. To stay dry and comfortable throughout your runs, you might also wish to invest in apparel that wicks away moisture.

Watch Your Running Form

You may run more effectively and decrease your chance of injury by using proper running form. Keep your head up, shoulders back, arms straight, and fall on your forefoot or midfoot rather than your heel.


Listen to Your Body

Running requires paying attention to your body's signals. Stop running and sit down if you experience any pain or discomfort. Pushing through the discomfort puts you at risk for more severe damage.

Incorporate Cross-Training and Rest Days

Cross-training with different types of exercise, including swimming, cycling, or Pilates, can help you get fitter overall and lower your risk of getting hurt. Rest days are crucial to giving your body the time it needs to heal and recuperate from the physical strains of running.

Physical Therapy Studies:

Here are two studies conducted by physical therapists that provide insights into injury prevention and rehabilitation for runners:

  1. Taunton JE, Ryan MB, Clement DB, et al. A retrospective case-control analysis of 2002 running injuries. Br J Sports Med. 2002;36(2):95-101. doi:10.1136/bjsm.36.2.95
  2. Buist I, Bredeweg SW, Bessem B, van Mechelen W, Lemmink KA, Diercks RL. Incidence and risk factors of running-related injuries during preparation for a 4-mile recreational running event. Br J Sports Med. 2010;44(8):598-604. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2008.04886

External Links:

  1. American Council on Exercise - Running Tips for Beginners
  2. Runner's World - See what they say about shoes in 2023

Incorporating these running tips into your routine can help you get the most out of your running experience while staying safe and injury-free. Remember to start slow, listen to your body, and have fun!

If you're interested in incorporating Pilates, GYROTONIC, or GYROKINESIS into your exercise routine, I invite you to call us at 512-215-4227 to get started with CORE Therapy & Pilates. We offer a range of services, including physical therapy and personalized exercise programs, to help you achieve your fitness goals and support your overall health and wellness.

Nurturing Your Immune Health: A Comprehensive Guide to Wellness in Mind, Body, and Spirit

Nurturing Your Immune Health
Nurturing Your Immune Health

What are some ways you can improve your immune system during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The immune system, an intricate network within our bodies, has become the epicenter of discussions in the wake of COVID-19. However, it's crucial to remember that this interest isn't merely tied to the pandemic; it serves as a broader reminder about the importance of maintaining robust health. 

Improving and maintaining your immune system is crucial, especially during a pandemic like COVID-19.

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Here are some tips on how you can bolster your immunity:

1. Follow Public Health Guidelines

 Adhere to the guidelines provided by your local public health authorities, such as wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene, and social distancing.

2. Maintain a Healthy Diet

Eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains can provide your body with the necessary vitamins and minerals that support immune health.

3. Exercise Regularly

Regular physical activity can boost your immune system and improve cardiovascular health, which in turn enhances your body's ability to fight off infections.

4. Get Adequate Sleep

Sleep is when your body regenerates and repairs itself, including your immune system. Strive for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

5. Manage Stress

High stress levels can impact your immune system. Incorporate stress-reducing activities into your daily routine, such as yoga, meditation, or any relaxing hobbies you enjoy.

6. Don't smoke; Limit Alcohol consumption

Smoking harms the immune system, while excessive alcohol consumption can also impact immune health. It's important to quit smoking and limit your alcohol consumption.

7. Stay Hydrated

While hydration doesn’t necessarily protect you from viruses, it's essential for overall health. Dehydration can cause headaches and hinder physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney function, which could lower your immunity.

8. Maintain a Healthy Weight 

Obesity can lead to a weakened immune system and might decrease your body’s ability to fight off infections.

Remember, even with a strong immune system, you can still contract illnesses, but it can assist in making any illness you do catch less severe and shorter. Always adhere to guidelines from trusted health organizations like the WHO and CDC and consult with healthcare professionals for personalized advice.

What are signs of a weak immune system?

A weakened immune system, often referred to as immunodeficiency, can manifest itself in various ways. Here are some common signs and symptoms that may suggest a weakened immune system:

1. Frequent and Recurrent Infections

If you frequently get infections, such as sinusitis, bronchitis, or pneumonia, and they tend to last longer than usual, it could be a sign of a weakened immune system.

2. Delayed Growth and Development in Children

In children, a weak immune system can lead to growth and developmental delays.

3. Skin Infections and Rashes

Regular or recurrent skin infections or rashes that won't go away could indicate a problem with your immune system.

4. Constant Fatigue

While everyone feels tired at times, chronic fatigue can be a sign of a weakened immune system.

5. Frequent Digestive Issues

Regular stomach upsets, including diarrhea, nausea, bloating, or cramping, could indicate immune system problems.

6. Frequent Colds or Flu

Most adults usually have two to three colds per year, and children can have even more. If you're getting more than your fair share, your immune system might not be working properly.

7. Wounds are Slow to Heal

Your immune system plays a crucial role in the healing process, and if it's weakened, you may find that it takes a long time for cuts, scrapes, or burns to heal.

Weight Loss

Unexplained or sudden weight loss might indicate a problem with your immune system.

These are potential signs of a weakened immune system, but they can also be symptoms of other health conditions. It's essential to speak with a healthcare professional if you're experiencing these symptoms to determine the cause and get the right treatment. It's also important to remember that maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and good hygiene practices, can help support a healthy immune system.

What vitamins help boost the immune system?

There are several vitamins and minerals that are known to support the immune system. They contribute to the body's natural defense system by promoting cellular function and enhancing the ability of immune cells to respond to infections. Here are some key ones:

1. Vitamin C

Often linked to immune system support, vitamin C can help stimulate the production of white blood cells, which are crucial in fighting off infections. Vitamin C is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, and spinach.

2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D can modulate the immune response and decrease the risk of infection and inflammation. Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it's directly exposed to sunlight. It can also be obtained through certain foods, such as fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified foods like milk and cereals.

3. Vitamin A

This vitamin is essential for the health and functioning of the skin and tissues in our mouth, stomach, intestines, and respiratory system. It is found in foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and kale.

4. Vitamin E

Vitamin E functions as an antioxidant that helps protect your cells from damage. It also supports your body's immune response. Good sources of vitamin E include nuts, seeds, and spinach.

5. B Vitamins

Several B vitamins, particularly B6, B9 (folate), and B12, play important roles in the immune system. They help with the production and function of immune cells. You can find these vitamins in a variety of foods, including whole grains, meat, eggs, dairy, fruits, leafy green vegetables, and fortified foods.

6. Zinc

This is a mineral that can help boost white blood cells, which guard against infections. Zinc is found in foods like meat, shellfish, legumes, and seeds.

7. Selenium

Selenium can help boost the health of the immune system by lowering oxidative stress in your body, which reduces inflammation and enhances immunity. Foods that are rich in selenium include brazil nuts, tuna, halibut, and sardines.

8. Iron

Iron, a key player in immune health, helps your body carry oxygen to cells and aids in the production of certain immune cells. It can be found in foods like red meat, chicken, tofu, beans, and fortified breakfast cereals.

Remember, while it's crucial to get these nutrients for a healthy immune system, taking extremely high doses of any single vitamin or mineral can have adverse effects. It's usually best to obtain these vitamins from a balanced, varied diet, but if you're considering supplements, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional first to determine what is appropriate and safe for your specific needs.

Boost your immune system with mind-body-spirit exercises.

A stronger immune system is a reflection of a healthier body, which, in turn, can be cultivated through consistent wellness practices.

Cheryl Dunn doing an exercise demo
Cheryl Dunn doing an exercise demo

Harnessing wellness involves a triad of interdependent components: mind, Body, and Spirit. While the ideal state is to achieve balance, it's often challenging. However, emphasizing only one or two components would limit your overall potential. Therefore, it's imperative to include all three aspects in your wellness practice.

Let's kick off with the mind. You might be familiar with the phrase 'monkey mind,' denoting thoughts that are not mindful or present. This might be a recurrent, unnecessary analysis of a confrontation, for instance. Various tools can help combat the 'monkey mind. 

Cheryl Dunn doing an exercise demo

Practicing mindfulness can be done while engaging in physical exercise or during conversations with others. Concentrating on your posture, breath, or actively listening rather than merely waiting for your turn to speak keeps you present, allowing for better interaction.

Meditation, with its diverse forms, serves as a powerful tool for calming the mind. From still meditation to mantra-based or quiet meditation, experimenting with different types can help you find the most suitable one.

Cheryl Dunn doing an exercise demo
Cheryl Dunn doing an exercise demo

Lastly, cultivating gratitude in everyday life fosters positivity. Recognizing and shifting away from negative thoughts towards gratitude can be remarkably transformative.

Next comes the body. Incorporating daily physical activity is crucial. Exercise need not be about losing weight or attaining physical appeal; it can be more holistic.

Cheryl Dunn doing an exercise demo

Movement is medicine, capable of circulating stagnant energy and enhancing vitality. When you exercise, it should feel good, not torturous. Introducing a variety of movements in your routine—from running, yoga, Pilates, and GYROTONIC workouts—enriches your physical potential.

Furthermore, it's essential to be mindful about your diet, listen to your body, and use products that agree with you. Correct posture is a non-negotiable part of any workout, ensuring optimal energy flow and proper digestion.

The last facet is the spiritual aspect. Spirituality is not restricted to religious practices; it is the pursuit of a higher sense of purpose and connection. Listening to or reading content that inspires personal growth, daily prayer, and meditation are excellent ways to nourish the spirit.

Meditation serves a dual purpose: calming the mind and enabling a deeper spiritual connection. Praying can help address concerns, express gratitude, and provide a sense of peace.

In conclusion, robust immune health can be achieved by fostering a balance between the mind, body, and spirit. I encourage you to look at your wellness practices and see where a sprinkle of attention might be needed.

Check out this link from the Mayo Clinic for more information on various forms of meditation. This high-domain authority website offers credible, in-depth resources on wellness and health-related topics.

Remember, consistency in nurturing your wellness is key. Embark on this journey of holistic health, and the benefits you reap will go beyond just a strong immune system.

Read more:

Incorporating Mindfulness in Movement: A Comprehensive Guide to Merging Exercise and Meditation into Meditative Exercise

Nurturing Your Immune Health: A Comprehensive Guide to Wellness in Mind, Body, and Spirit

Incorporating Mindfulness in Movement: A Comprehensive Guide to Merging Exercise and Meditation into Meditative Exercise

Incorporating Mindfulness in Movement

What is a meditative exercise?

Meditative exercise refers to physical activities that are performed with the intention of promoting mindfulness and concentration. It is a process where movement and mindfulness come together, creating a unique practice that benefits both the mind and the body.

Typically, meditative exercises involve slow, deliberate movements accompanied by deep, mindful breathing. The goal is to draw your attention to the sensations of your body as you move and breathe, promoting a state of focused relaxation.

Some examples of meditative exercises include:

  • Yoga: An ancient practice that includes postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama) designed to promote flexibility, strength, and inner peace. Yoga encourages mindfulness as you focus on your breathing and body alignment throughout the practice.
  • Tai Chi: This Chinese martial art form involves a series of slow, flowing body movements. It emphasizes concentration, relaxation, and the circulation of vital energy known as 'qi'. It's often described as 'meditation in motion.'
  • Qigong: An ancient Chinese practice, Qigong involves rhythmic breathing coordinated with slow, stylized repetition of fluid movement and a calm, mindful state.
  • Walking Meditation: In this practice, mindfulness is maintained during the act of walking. Attention is focused on the process of walking itself, the sensation of footfalls, or the feeling of the earth beneath your feet.
  • Pilates: Pilates is a physical fitness system that focuses on controlled movements, often performed on specially designed equipment. It encourages practitioners to maintain concentration on the body's core—the area from the abdomen to the lower back and hips. This focus on precise, mindful movements can transform Pilates into a meditative exercise, improving strength, flexibility, and mindfulness.
  • Gyrotonic: The GYROTONIC method is an exercise system that allows the body to move fluidly through a range of natural motions, including spirals and circular movements. By placing a strong emphasis on breath control, spinal and joint articulation, and the organic unfolding of movements, GYROTONIC exercises promote a holistic sense of body awareness and mindfulness, making them a form of meditative exercise.
Sitting GYROTONIC(R) Exercises

These exercises aim to enhance mind-body connection, encourage mindfulness, and foster inner peace while also offering various physical benefits like improved strength, flexibility, and body coordination.

What are 5 mindfulness exercises?

Mindfulness is all about focusing on the present moment and acknowledging and accepting what you're sensing and feeling without interpretation or judgment. Here are five exercises that can help you cultivate mindfulness in your daily life:

  • Mindful Breathing: This simple exercise can be done anywhere and at any time. Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Pay attention to the rhythm of your breathing, the sensation of the air flowing in and out of your nostrils, and the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to your breath.
  • Body Scan: Start by lying down comfortably and then mentally scanning your body from head to toe. Pay attention to each part of your body, noticing any sensations, discomfort, or tension. Don’t try to change what you find; simply observe. This practice is excellent for increasing body awareness and can be very relaxing.
  • Mindful Eating: Instead of rushing through meals, take the time to eat mindfully. Notice the look, smell, and texture of your food. As you take a bite, try to identify the ingredients. Chew slowly, savoring each bite. This can enhance your enjoyment of the meal and make you more aware of your body's hunger and fullness cues.
  • Mindful Walking: Find a place where you can walk comfortably, like a park or quiet street. As you walk, focus on the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the rhythm of your steps, your breathing, and the feeling of the wind against your skin. Notice the sights, sounds, and smells around you. This combines physical activity with mindfulness, grounding you in the present moment.
  • Loving-Kindness Meditation: Begin by sitting comfortably and closing your eyes. Visualize yourself and silently repeat phrases like "May I be safe, may I be happy, may I be healthy, and may I live with ease." After a few minutes, bring to mind someone you care about and extend these wishes to them. You can continue to extend these wishes to others, like neutral people, difficult people, and ultimately all sentient beings.

Each of these exercises serves as a practical way to cultivate mindfulness in your daily routine, reducing stress and enhancing mental clarity. Like any skill, mindfulness takes practice, so be patient with yourself as you explore these exercises.

Kneeling GYROTONIC(R) Exercises
Kneeling GYROTONIC(R) Exercises 2

Is mindfulness exercise the same as meditation?

While mindfulness and meditation share similarities, they are not entirely the same thing.

Mindfulness is a form of attention control that focuses on an awareness of sensations and experiences in the present moment. It involves accepting and acknowledging thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment or distraction. Mindfulness can be practiced throughout the day in everyday activities like eating, walking, or even just breathing.

Meditation, on the other hand, is a more structured practice where a specific time is set aside to reduce distractions and focus the mind. Meditation often uses mindfulness as a technique during its practice. There are many forms of meditation, such as focused attention meditation, where you focus on a single thing like your breath or a mantra, and open-monitoring meditation, where you pay attention to all of the things happening around you.

In essence, mindfulness is a state of being that involves focusing on the present moment, while meditation is a more structured activity that can use mindfulness as a technique to achieve a certain mental state. Both can offer benefits like reduced stress, improved focus, and better emotional regulation, and they often complement each other in mental health and wellness practices.

Standing GYROTONIC(R) Exercises
Pilates Chair Exercises

Let's dive in deeper.

You've perhaps tuned in to our popular EnVibe Life Conversations Series, during which you've likely heard me emphasize how I've found a unique way of integrating my exercise routines with meditation. It might seem counterintuitive at first—the idea of merging two fundamentally contrasting activities. However, through a three-step approach encompassing intentionality, focus, and gratitude, I've managed to build a transformative routine. Here is an elaborate guide on how you can develop this profound integration between body and mind in your daily workouts.

Setting Intentions: The Foundation of Mindful Movement

The initial step of my mindful exercise is based on developing clear intentions. This is a flexible process, with the direction of these intentions determined by what I want to achieve from the workout. There's no limit to what these intentions can encompass.

In some instances, my intention is entirely body-oriented, focusing on the activation and engagement of specific muscle groups. For example, during a run, I may concentrate on the activation of the left pelvic floor and groin area, monitoring each footfall closely. Such intentionality not only improves my physical performance but also increases my awareness of body mechanics.

Alternatively, my intentions may be more introspective, aimed at decluttering my mind and fostering positivity. To achieve this, I use affirmations like "I am healthy, I am happy, and I am blessed." Each affirmation acts as a mantra that synchronizes with my movements, transforming repetitive physical activity into a soothing, rhythmic meditation.

There are times when my intention is centered around enhancing self-awareness, whether it be through monitoring my breath, maintaining an upright posture, or simply focusing on the instructor's guidance during a group fitness class. The beauty of this process lies in its personalization; you're free to set your intention according to what suits your present mental and physical state.

Pilates Reformer Exercises

Maintaining Focus: The Heart of the Practice

Upon setting an intention, the subsequent step is to engage in the exercise, maintaining unwavering focus on the pre-established goal. While it sounds simple, this is the most demanding part of the process. Just as the mind tends to wander during meditation, the same can happen during exercise. The mind may drift away, lured by an array of thoughts, worries, or even the surrounding environment.

However, it's crucial not to get disheartened by these distractions. Even if you're working out in a social setting, like going for a run with a friend, you can still hold onto your intention. Despite the challenge of maintaining focus amidst conversation, remember that it is possible to momentarily steer your attention back to your body or your chosen affirmation. This skill isn't just beneficial for your workout; it's also valuable for fostering mindfulness in social interactions, whether they're business meetings or casual conversations.

Expressing Gratitude: The Closing Ritual

The final step in this meditative exercise ritual is expressing gratitude. This isn't simply thankfulness for the obvious, like a completed workout, but a deep appreciation for everything involved in the process.

I start by thanking my body for its resilience and ability to carry out the tasks I've asked of it. I extend gratitude towards the earth that provides the ground on which I run, walk, or perform yoga poses. I appreciate nature for the gentle breeze that offers a refreshing respite during a challenging outdoor workout.

The circle of gratitude expands to include the people around me, the friends who accompany me on workout sessions, creating a supportive and motivated community. I am thankful for the fitness classes I participate in, appreciating the dedication and knowledge of the instructors who guide and inspire me.

The final part of my workout, gratitude, has a pivotal role in rounding out the session. This expression of appreciation fosters a profound sense of peace and contentment, aligning perfectly with the tranquility we often seek through meditation. It's like the finishing stroke in a painting, bringing the entire piece together harmoniously.

Embracing Mindful Movement: Reaping the Benefits

The integration of these mindful practices into your exercise routine is not only beneficial for your physical wellbeing but also plays a significant role in enhancing mental health. Your next run, Pilates class, or bike ride can be much more than a fitness session; it can be a moment of personal growth, self-awareness, and peace.

By introducing intentionality into your exercise, you pave the way for a deeper connection between your mind and body, facilitating improved focus and performance. Cultivating focus aids in honing your attention, a skill that transfers well into other life situations. And by nurturing a practice of gratitude, you encourage positive emotions, reinforcing a sense of fulfillment and happiness that transcends beyond your workout space.

In summary, the beauty of this process lies in its adaptability. You can tweak and adjust your intentions, focus, and expressions of gratitude to align with your unique needs and preferences. Your workout transforms into a holistic, nourishing routine that feeds both your body and mind, and that is the true essence of mindful movement.

Read more about mindfulness meditation exercise from

Are you local to the Austin area? If so call 512-215-4227 to talk to our team at CORE Therapy & Pilates to learn how you can get started with meditative exercises.