Friday, July 29, 2011

Time for a Go-Stop!

by Susanne Dietze

Last summer, my family and I put a few thousand miles on our car as we visited relatives in another state. Traveling by car was more economical for us than flying, and it afforded us the opportunity to visit friends along the way and explore areas we’d never seen before (some of our most fun memories were of spontaneous stops, like touring a lavender farm in Sequim, Washington, and eating Umpqua ice cream in the car as we drove through Oregon).

First Beach, La Push, Washington: a favorite stop on last summer's car trip
Car travel also has its drawbacks. The road gets long, our backs ache, and everyone gets more than a little uncomfortable and claustrophobic. This year, our vacation will keep us closer to home, but car travel is still in the plans. I found a few tips that can help counteract some of the negative effects of long car rides--Go Stops, if you will, instead of Rest Stops--and I tried them out on a recent day trip. Maybe it’s my advancing age, but I thought they helped enough for me to share them with you!

It also occurred to me that the benefits of taking a break on the road would apply to other situations where we sit for lengthy periods of time—like sitting at a computer, for example. So whether or not you’re facing a long car ride, a deadline with your manuscript, or the daily grind of the workplace, some of these Go-Stop activities might be helpful. (But remember to keep your physical limitations in mind, and don’t try anything that your doctor might disapprove of you doing.)

Take a walk around the rest stop
You knew this was coming, but use stops to GO and get your body moving. When you take a bathroom or lunch break, stretch for five minutes. Walk around the perimeter of fast-food restaurants or rest stops. If there are stairs, take them, or step up and down a curb. Even five minutes of activity can increase blood flow, release muscle tension, and refresh brain power so you can better focus on the task at hand.

Drink, drink, drink. Water, that is. Staying hydrated keeps our bodies working as they should, and soda unfortunately doesn't rehydrate. Nibble on healthy snacks, like nuts and fruit. And don't forget your bathroom breaks.

Does your back ache from sitting too long? When you stop for a bathroom break, try this stretch, a variation on touching your toes: stand and place your hands behind your thighs. Slowly bend over, sliding your hands down the back of your legs as far as you comfortably can. In the meantime, lift your chest upward. (Similar to the woman in the photo, but lift your chest and head. Feel the pull!)

Another stretch that feels great but is sure to embarrass your teenagers if you do it in public? It requires a bit of balance, but I love this stretch when I’ve been working at the computer for too long. Turn your back to a bench or chair, and stand as far from it as you can so your foot will still reach it. Then tuck the top of one foot onto the table and lift your chest skyward. You’ll stretch your back, hips, and legs. (You can use a picnic table for this stretch, too. I have to stand closer to the table, put the top of my foot on it, and hop a little ways away from it, which is undoubtedly unattractive to watch, but it feels even better to me than using a low chair.)

If you’re taking a plane or train and can’t stretch out? Anything that gets you moving from time to time helps with muscle tension and preventing blood clots. Walk up and down the aisle if permissible. If you’re restricted to your seat, try flexing your calves and feet. Point your toes, hold for a count of five, then pull your toes upward and count for five. Your neighbor won’t be any wiser.

Here’s hoping your summer travels are fun, fancy-free, and refreshing!

Silly Question of the Day: What was the longest trip you ever took? What do you most remember about the journey?

Rest stop and yoga photos courtesy of

Susanne Dietze has written love stories set in the nineteenth century since she was in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and spending time with family and friends. Her work has finaled in the 2010 Genesis Contest, the 2009 Gotcha! Contest, and the Touched By Love Contest, 2008 and 2009. You can visit her on her personal blog, Tea and a Good Book,


  1. These are great tips, Susie, though I'm not sure about that picnic table thing. I don't know if I'm limber or coordinated enough.

    I love your question of the day, too. The longest trip I ever took was from San Francisco to Japan by ship. With a 24hr stop over in Hawaii, it took 14 days. My premature sister was 5 weeks old and my poor mother was seasick the entire time. I'm sure the trip seemed like a year for her.

  2. Oh Suzie, that sounds terrible. Even Hawaii couldn't make that trip sound better.

    Susie, I'm enjoying the idea of you doing strange stretches as your teens look the other way, mortified.

    I even have to do strange stretches for my back during worship at church. Standing still too long makes my lower back ache.

    My last vehicle confinement was sitting between the two grandchildren's car seats from Harrisburg PA to OBX and being stuck in traffic on 95. I couldn't do anything with my legs for hours but wiggle my toes. I get a little claustrophobic just now thinking of it. But give me some room to maneuver (and the ability to get out of the car without assistance) and I'm with you on any road trip!

    I wonder if this is pretty common, but when I road trip I tend to want to snack and eat junk food-not a good thing, eh?

  3. Hey Susie, great topic! And I love the question, too considering I just finished one of my longest road trips...

    Over the course of 10 days, I drove 5200 kms (3200 miles). While this wasn't all done at one stretch, the heavier drives included:
    - 10 hrs Calgary AB to home in SK
    - 18 hrs Home to Thunder Bay, ON (1700 kms/1056 mls)
    - 17 hrs Thunder Bay to home

    I took 2 short naps en route TBay, but only one on the way back.

    Those long stretches included 2 meals (1 drive-thru) and numerous pitstops for stretches, etc at roadside rest areas.

    I arrived back home 6 days ago totally drained. I basically slept for 2 days. As usual when I'm rundown, I suffered from a sore throat and summer cold upon my return. I still have a nagging cough and sniffles. Ugh.

    However, I got some research in, was able to pick up Jess from Calgary, and brought all 4 kids to visit my mom. She has cancer and hadn't seen the 3 youngest in 4 years. As well, she hadn't seen our oldest since she was in high school (12 yrs ago).

    We also had a family reunion with my birthfather who had never met Crystal.

    So in the end, my little bit of suffering is nothing compared to the joy my mom and birthfather experienced.

    Thanks for letting me share, Susie.

    Anita Mae.

  4. Oh Suzie, that trip sounds horrible! Your poor queasy mom! I can't imagine what that must have been like with a young daughter and a newborn. Do you have any fun memories of the ship? Too bad it wasn't a Disney cruise (which I TOTALLY want to do, btw).

    I'm not very graceful, but that stretch where I put my foot up on the arm of a chair or a table and hop away feels fabulous when I've been typing.

    Hope you're having a great day, Suzie.

  5. Oh Deb, sometimes my back aches in church, too. Or when I'm sitting in the plastic chairs at the elementary school to help the teacher. I promise, I do not do bizarre stretches in either of those places.

    I took a long car trip in the back of a minivan between two grown ups once, and I was in the middle (of course). I also took a day-long drive smack between two car seats. My kids loved having me sandwiched between them, but I remember how squished my arms and legs were. I feel your claustrophobic pain.

    For some reason, when I'm in the car, I want to eat Salsa Sun Chips. I tell myself they're rich in fiber (snort).

  6. What an amazing trip, Anita! You were all over Canada. I am so glad you were able to do and see so much. What a blessing to see your mom and birth dad. Eternal rewards, for sure.

    And you made a lot of memories with your kids, too. Research is the cherry on top. I always love it when I can get some research in on my travels.

    I can relate to your exhaustion and cold. I have a sore throat etc too right now. It happens when I'm run down...

    I've been very curious about your adventure so I'm glad you could share this morning. Try to get some rest and take it easy on yourself!

  7. Blogger is giving me Comment Feature Trials again, so if anybody experiences trouble, copy your comment just in case it doesn't go through the first (or second) time. Sorry about that!

    Oh, and my longest trip? I've had a few, but the most memorable long day was when I was 11, driving from western Tennessee to visit my best friend who'd just moved to Savannah, GA. It took a lot longer than my parents expected and we experienced some stress along the way. I think my dad was ready to kiss the ground when we reached Savannah.

    Savannah was fabulous, though. :-)

  8. We'll be leaving for Florida on Monday and a go-stop sounds great to me! We just got a mini-van, and that should help. I've managed to avoid one ever since we stopped having multiple children in car seats, but now that we have four adult sized people in the family, there's no way around it anymore.

    Every time I take a trip I can't wait to get to a hotel to do my favorite stretch that realigns my spine. But since it involves writhing on the floor, I've not yet been brave enough to do it at a rest stop. LOL.

  9. Dina, have a fun trip. Anita, I'm glad you're back safe.

    Susie, my memories of that trip to Japan were great. I was, um, not a very quiet child and was always into trouble. So while my poor dad was taking care of a preemie and a sick wife who couldn't even stand up, I was busy exploring, making friends, and giving people headaches.

    I would love to do the Disney cruise, too!

  10. My longest trips have been to Chile, but I'm really a road trip gal.
    BTW, my chiropractor recommends getting up, walking around, and stretching for at least 10-15 minutes of every hour spent sitting. Doesn't work so well in the car, but it's something I need to apply at home and at work! It's supposed to help one's creativity, too.

  11. Dina, now I want to know what that stretch is! I do one with a yoga belt where I lay on the floor, loop the belt under one foot, and stick that leg up in the air. Holding the belt, I stretch the leg to the right, then the left. Good for my lower back.

    I had a minivan for 10 years. When you've got a lot of people to transport, they're awesome. People may diss the minivan but not me. :)

    Have fun on your trip!

  12. Suzie, I've been eyeing the Disney cruises for years. Some of our friends are on one, going to Alaska. I can't wait to hear about it when they get back. The dinners sound fabulous.

  13. Niki, I think I will take your chiropractor's advice. I've noticed a lot of problems happen with my back etc when I'm at the computer too long. 25% of an hour's work sounds like a huge portion to give away, but if taking a decent break to move around will stave off problems in the long run, I'm all for it.

    And if it helps with creativity, well...I'm all for that, too!

  14. Those are great tips!

    My longest trip was a flight to Munich and then the connecting flight to Ukraine. Ugh. And all the customs and everything. But it was wonderful to visit.

    My worst trip was a 9 1/2 hour flight to London. There was a toddler in the seat next to me (who wanted to grab any and everything I happened to be holding) a screaming baby in the seat next to him and most of their stuff in a box where my feet should have gone. Their mother was totally oblivious to anything they were doing.

    9 1/2 hours with your back twisted so your feet can go into the aisle while simultaneously trying to twist the other way to keep your book out of a toddler's reach is a bit of a challenge.

    But, as always, the trip to England was well worth it. I adore castles. :D

  15. The longest road trip I ever took was moving from VA to TX. The less said about that the better. But my FIL was the driver and smokes, so we took plenty of breaks and I did get up and at least stretch beside the vehicle if I couldn't do anything else. It was also a Durango, so short little me had plenty of leg room even in the back behind my 6 foot something FIL. It's nearly 2,000 miles from there to here. I declare I'm dlying back.

    When I flew from Washington, DC to Lisbon, Portugal, it was nine hours of sitting with a person on either side and 70 pounds of dog at my feet. I was lucky to find my toes, let alone point them as I do on even short flights, but made up for it walking the next ten days.

    I got on the aisle on the way back.

    As much as I want to visit Australia and New Zealand, I don't think it's going to happen.

  16. Oh DeAnna, that trip to London sounds awful. How frustrating to have your legroom taken from you! It's not like there's much to begin with.

    I was once on a red eye from LA to Newark, which was going on to London. (I had to get off at Newark--still haven't been to London!) We were stuck in the middle of a 5-seat row. The lady next to me fell asleep and kept trying to snuggle my shoulder. Ugh. I was so happy to get off that plane.

  17. Hi Laurie Alice! I don't think I'll ever make it to NZ or Australia, either. I have a friend from NZ, and she says it takes about 24 hours of flight time to get there. When she goes back to visit her family, she spends about a month with them. I think I would, too--it would probably take me half that time to get over the trip and get accustomed to the time difference.

    I'm glad you had leg room on your road trip! It feels so good to change positions every once in a while.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  18. I've gotten to where I just don't like flying anymore. I avoid it as much as possible. I think I'd like first class, though ;)

  19. great stories, er, well, interesting stories but now my back really does ache.
    Anita Mae, I hope you are feeling better soon!

  20. I hope you're better, too, Anita Mae.

    My back hurts. This morning I did the whole bend-over stretch In The Privacy Of My Own Home. I realized I do look more than a little idiotic, but who cares, it helps.


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