Driving to and from work every day can be a common trigger for back pain. Sitting in the same position for hours on end can lead to backaches, soreness, and even more severe back problems, like herniated discs. While driving with back pain is unpleasant, it can be avoided. If you’re suffering from back pain caused by driving, there are things you can do to help prevent pain when you’re behind the wheel.
Back pain can make it difficult for you to drive. Here are some back pain prevention tips that can make you more comfortable the next time you drive.:
Maintain proper posture
Sitting with poor posture for extended periods of time can cause back pain. Hunching with your shoulders forward can put undue pressure on your spine. Be mindful of your posture when driving, and remember the acronym “SLANT”, which means:
S – Sit with your back straight
L – Lean forward at the waist so that your chest is over your thighs
A – Arms should be angled slightly outward and away from the body, not crossed against it
N – Neck relaxed and bent backward slightly for optimal head alignment; avoid tilting up and down or side-to-side
T – Thighs should be perpendicular to the torso with ankles directly below knees (not turned out) on top of footrests if adjustable.
Sit in your most comfortable position
The moment you sit behind the wheel, find your most comfortable driving position. Sit straight, empty your pockets, and adjust your back and neck supports. Be sure there’s a safe and comfortable distance between you and the steering wheel.
Adjust your headrest
The back of your seat can make a difference when it comes to how comfortable you are when driving, so be sure to adjust it accordingly. Raising or lowering the height of your seat back will help align your body properly with your back muscles, shoulders, hips, and legs, making for a more relaxed drive. Consider investing in a lumbar roll or cushion to add extra lower back support while sitting straight up without slouching forward. Sitting correctly helps keep us safe by ensuring that our eyes are looking ahead instead of down at our phones or other distractions that can cause car accidents. Plus, proper posture also keeps our blood flowing through our bodies properly, which is important for delivering oxygenated blood to areas like our backsides, so back pain doesn’t occur.
Pace yourself on long drives
Sitting in one position for too long can stiffen your back muscles and may lead to muscle spasms. Increased movement is important in order to stimulate blood circulation. So take your time and give yourself short breaks to walk around every hour or so, if possible. Step out of your vehicle and move around. It’s OK if your road trip takes a little longer than expected. It isn’t worth having back pain from trying to push through a painful and uncomfortable drive.
Wear comfortable clothes
Make sure you wear comfortable clothes that give you freedom of movement while you drive and don’t hinder your ability to sit correctly while maintaining good posture.
Shift your position every now and then
Try to move around a little in your seat and shift positions when possible. Making small movements while you drive is better for your body than sitting still in the same position for hours on end. Give your hamstring muscles a slight stretch by pumping your ankles. As long as you stay safe while you’re driving, making these tiny movements to keep the blood flowing can help prevent pain.
Breathe deeply during your drive
Deep breathing, with long exhales, helps stimulate blood flow, which is important for keeping our back muscles healthy, flexible, and pain-free. Do a few deep breathing exercises at stop signs or red lights, when you’re stuck in traffic, or anytime your back muscles are feeling stiff. You can also do this while driving if that feels comfortable for you.
Consider hot or cold therapy
You might want to use back pain relief products like hot or cold packs to help soothe your back muscles. Apply heat on your lower back whenever you feel back stiffness coming on. Heat therapy is effective for increasing blood flow and relaxing your muscles. Cold therapy, on the other hand, can be used to alleviate inflammation and swelling.
Driving with back pain can be extremely uncomfortable, but you don’t have to endure the pain anymore. You can prevent back pain from driving by following these tips!
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