Having several hours behind the wheel, because you’re engaged in driving as your job or when you’re driving on a long trip, you may experience real back pain. Seats for most cars are only comfortable if you are driving for short distances, as they are not designed to offer support to your back while driving for long hours.
The pain you encounter on long hauls should not discourage you because there are some modifications you can apply to your seat and your driving environment to prevent or to do away with back pain experienced during driving.
Make Your Space Comfortable
Before you start driving, you want to ensure that you’ll be as comfortable as you can. Having items like your cell phone and your wallet may be appropriate when you are walking around, but when you are sitting on such items while driving on long distances, it can be downright painful.
To increase your comfort level, put on comfortable clothes and shoes. Having any form of discomfort especially while driving can result to stress on your body. Even if it doesn’t cause pain at first, pain may result with time.
Ensure a fairly upright sitting by adjusting the seat specifically for you. If you bend while sitting, it can lead to stress on your upper back as well as your neck. Ensure your seat is reasonably high to ensure enough room to allow you to have your feet flat in the floor, at least for some time. For shorter individuals especially, a chair cushion for the car can make a huge difference.
As you reach the steering wheel, your elbows should be bent slightly, and to reach the pedals you don’t have to stretch your legs to get to the pedals. Have your mirrors well-adjusted to ensure you don’t crane or bend your neck to have clear visibility.
Get Some Exercise
Strengthening your core muscles is one of the best things you can do for your lower back. You can do various stretches and exercises at home but a gym membership is one of the best investments drivers can make.
Sitting for hours is not a good recipe for a healthy back. Driving is similar to being at a computer all day except your car seat likely doesn’t offer good ergonomics like a high quality office chair. Whether you buy a cheap set of dumbbells or get an LA Fitness membership, anything is better than nothing.
Have a Healthy Back Kit
Have some items with you to put you back in a comfortable position to avoid pain while driving. Some important items to put in place to enhance comfort while driving include:
- A pillow to support your lower back
- A hot or cold pack
- A towel to roll up and fix it behind the small of your back
- Something to relive your pain (ie: Ibuprofen)
- Place a cushion on your seat to absorb any vibration
- A wireless TENS unit affixed to the problem area
- Water to keep yourself hydrated
- Essential oils such as peppermint or lavender
Use Rest Stops to Get Out and Stretch or Walk a Bit
Driving continuously while on a long journey without breaks is not advised. This can make you get more tired, sore and stiff and lose concentration on the road.
Instead, have some breaks at some points to stretch or even take a short walk. This will make you feel more refreshed and loosen up those muscles which are often responsible for back pain. Even 10 minutes can make a huge difference between almost non-existent pain and excruciating pain.
While on break, you can move your ankles up and down to allow free blood circulation on the lower part of the leg. You should adjust your seat or seating position after every 20 minutes. These simple movements will keep your blood flowing to your muscles to avoid them get sore and stiff.
Regular chiropractic care and exercise are also important in preventing back pain while driving. To keep your spine at its best, ensure you engage in some exercise to strengthen your back.