Back Pain ‘Driving’ You Mad? Tips To Help Alleviate Back Pain While Driving..
If you drive fairly long distances to and from work everyday, if your job requires you to drive long hours, or, if you’re the designated driver in your family – it’s likely you’ve experienced back pain.
In fact around 30-60% of drivers report having back pain at some point in their life, and a lot of the people we see at Bodies Under Construction come to us in pain as a result of spending 30 minutes plus on the road, almost daily!
But why does something as simple as driving trigger off back pain when it’s not exactly strenuous?… Well, driving for long periods of time exposes the body to many different forces such as acceleration, sudden stops, and most notably vibrations from the road – and it especially affects those of us who drive larger vehicles or heavy goods vehicles for hours at a time!
Driving also involves the use of your feet to control the car’s pedals which means they are not used to help stabilise and support your lower body as they normally would when you’re sitting.
So it’s no wonder why a combination of these factors as well as the inadequate design of some vehicle seats can cause back problems for many of us.
Because back pain can make driving unpleasant (and in some cases, unbearable!) I put together a list of tips to help make your next journey as pain-free as possible.
Here are 7 tips to help you:…
1. Get Comfortable Before You Set Off
A small irritation can quickly grow into an unbearable pain, and if you’ve got a long journey ahead, or even if you’re just in the car for 20 minutes, this can make your journey unpleasant and likely to affect the rest of your day.
So, before you set off take a few moments to settle into a comfortable position. Check your mirrors, adjust your seat – this is particularly important if you share your car as, these may have been changed by another driver and you don’t want to strain your body, or have to turn awkwardly when driving placing strain on your neck and upper back!
2. Adjust Your Mirrors
Making sure your mirrors are in the right position is especially important so you don’t have to move or twist to see out of them properly.
As a general rule, you should only have to move your eyes to be able to see out of your mirrors.
Tip: If you adjust them while sitting up straight – if you begin to slouch you’ll lose vision in the mirrors, which will act as a reminder to sit up.
3. Use A Towel For Support
For additional support while driving – roll up a towel and place it behind your lower back. Make sure not to make it too thick as you want it to support your natural curvature not increase it! Car seats don’t often support the curve of your back. By using a towel you’ll help yourself out by maintaining good posture, making back pain a lot less likely to creep up.
4. Make Sure You’re Sitting Comfortably
Most people don’t realise it, but when they’re driving their seat is positioned completely wrong, which can cause back pain and problems with posture.
As you take a seat, make sure your seat is only slightly reclined so that it feels natural to sit comfortably – think 100 degree angle instead of 90, and you’ll be sitting in about the right position to drive pain free. My wife likes to set the seat in our car completely straight. I find that incredibly uncomfortable and I have to tilt the seat slightly backward before I am happy. If you recline your seat too far, your head won’t be able to comfortably rest against the head – rest which can cause tension in your neck and upper back.
5. Take Regular Breaks
I know you see signs for ‘taking a break’ along the side of the road all the time – but it’s for good reason.
Stopping regularly (around every hour) to move and stretch will help ease any tension and reduce any muscle stiffness.
When you take a break, do some gentle twists to loosen the body up. And if your neck and shoulders are feeling tense – try shrugging and rolling your shoulders back and forth, then rolling your neck from side to side.
6. Have Cruise Control? Use it!
If your car has cruise control, use this when you can – usually on long stretches of road when it’s quiet or the traffic is flowing nicely.
While using it, place your feet on the floor so your legs form a 90-degree angle and gently push them down into the floor. This will help naturally support your spine, and put you in a neutral position without having to press down on the pedal constantly.
7. Exercise Regularly
Even just adding exercise into your routine 2-3 times a week will help strengthen your back muscles, release tension and help you maintain a healthy posture.
Cardio exercises like cycling, walking and swimming are great for overall fitness, and weights are perfect for improving muscle strength.
And if your back pain is really bad, making you fearful of participating in exercise in case it makes your back worse, you can always give my Physio Clinic a call, we’re happy to answer questions to help you live with less pain, even if you’re not a patient – call: 01344 489398 (Bracknell) or 01753 866274 (Windsor)
Connect with us on via telephone or email us to tell us what’s going on with your back. A member of the team can take your details and we can email or post a copy. Here’s our contact form. https://applephysio.com/contact/
FREE REPORT: “HERE’S HOW YOU CAN GET IN ON ALL THE FREE ADVICE CURRENTLY BEING GIVEN AWAY BY OUR BEST PHYSIOS TO PEOPLE WHO WANT TO KNOW HOW TO BRING A FAST END TO THEIR “DAILY, ANNOYING AND NAGGING” BACK PAIN…BEFORE IT GETS ANY WORSE”!
About the Author: Leslie Abrahams
Leslie is a Physio, Pilates Educator and Rehab Specialist who has a special interest in Spinal Treatments, lower limb injuries, and has vast experience dealing with patients post injury or surgery. Every week, for over 20 years, 100’s of people aged 30-64+ have consulted Leslie and his team looking for answers to concerning questions about, and for, a fast end to their health worries and physical pains and stiffness.
Leslie is a Master Trainer for the world renowned Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute(APPI). He is regular key note speaker at conferences and travels internationally to present on modified exercise for rehabilitation. Leslie is the Director of Apple Physio Clinics situated in Bracknell and Windsor. Berkshire’s Specialist Private Physiotherapy Practice for People in their 30’s. 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, who want to keep healthy and active.