Tips for Minimizing Neck and Back Pain When Driving

Driving can be a very uncomfortable and painful task especially for people who spend long periods of time behind the wheel. In fact, improper driving techniques can be the main reason why people begin to experience pain in the first place. Therefore, it is extremely important that we understand what causes us to experience pain while driving and how we can take the proper precautions to prevent it.

Reasons Why Driving Causes Neck and Back Pain

• The spine is exposed to constant vibrations and jolting.
• Seats may not provide lumbar support.
• Driving, especially for long periods of time, places extra strain on your vertebrae and discs.
• Many car seats are made to sit lower and tip back which places strain on your hamstrings, makes your pelvis roll backwards by sliding forward on the seat, and puts strain on your neck by forcing you to hold your neck forward 20 degrees in order to look straight at the road.
• Positioning your seat too far away from the pedals puts strain on your upper back and neck.
• If you drive a manual car, constantly pressing on the clutch puts pressure on your lumbar discs.

What You Can Do To Reduce/Prevent Pain While Driving

Drive an Automatic Car. Automatic cars are less strenuous on your back since you are relieved of the constant clutch use required in manual cars.

Adjust Seat. Your seat is supposed to be positioned to support as much of your thighs as possible, close and high enough so that your legs and feet aren’t reaching for the pedals, and the backrest is supposed to have an inclination anywhere from 5-10 degrees. Also, make sure that the top of your head rest is at least at eye level or higher to avoid whiplash injuries.

Adjust Steering Wheel. Your arms are supposed to have an angle that allows your arms to be bent comfortably in the 10 to 2 position.

Correct Posture. Since many car seats are designed to tip back, many drivers have the tendency to slump forward. This slumping position can take a huge toll on your back pain and make it extremely painful and uncomfortable for you. Practice readjusting your posture and slowly get away from your poor sitting habits so that you may begin to feel the benefits sooner than later.

Lumbar Support. Our backs have a natural inward curve that many cars do not provide lumbar support for. Many of the newer cars provide lumbar support in the seat that may be adjusted to the curve of your lower back to sit naturally and comfortably. If your car seat does not have lumbar support, you may purchase an in-car lumbar support. For a cheaper solution that works just as well, you may roll up a towel or a t-shirt and place it between your inward lumbar curve and the seat.

Relax. While driving, our bodies tend to tense up in response to other drivers and pedestrians and our current emotions. Although it might feel weird at first, try to rest your head back on the head rest and relax. This way, your neck and shoulders won’t tense up as much and won’t be subjected to upper back and neck pain. Eventually, this will begin to feel good.

Take Breaks. Many drivers find that they experience back pain mostly when they are driving for longer periods of time. If this is the case, do not attempt to make these trips all in one shot. Since your back becomes weaker the longer you drive, it is very important to stop the car every once in a while to take a break to move around and stretch your body.