Back pain is a common complaint from drivers who regularly drive for longer distance especially on a daily work commute or if your job is centred around driving such as a delivery driver.
A common mistake of fixing the problem is buying a whole new car with different types of seats, but your action doesn’t need to be this drastic because this can be very costly and time consuming. Especially because it’ll be difficult to tell whether seats will aggravate your condition after a quick test drive.
We’ve put this guide together with real actionable steps that you can take to soothe and heal your back-pain problems so you can begin to drive in less discomfort.
Plan Regular Stops
As humans the spine is supposed to move regularly and sitting in the same position for a prolonged period will cause your back muscles to stiffen up which then leads to the pain and achiness. When you plan your journey you should add in some scheduled stops which should ideally be around every 30 minutes.
At the stop this will allow you to get out of the and stretch your muscles which will trigger blood stimulation to your lower back lessening the negative effect of sitting in your vehicle driving.
If you can’t have scheduled stops then try to move a little when you’re sat in your seat just so you’re not sat still. Even if this just means that you adjust your seat and position every 20 minutes.
Strengthening your back muscles through regular exercise will help with avoiding strain and fatigue. You can do this through regular exercise whether this be running, swimming or weight training. This will also be could for your overall fitness whilst releasing the tension from your back.
Swimming is probably the best because it takes the weight and strain off and allows for your whole body fitness to be improved. If you swim just a couple of times a week for a 30 minute sessions you’ll quickly see the benefits.
It’s quite common for drivers to have cruise control on their vehicle but not even realise that this can help with their back pain. If your car has cruise control then use this whenever you can, and once its activated you can take the pressure of your back by placing your feet on the floor to create a 90 degree angle. This will also help to provide more support for your spine and help push it back into a more natural alignment.
Warm Up Your Muscles
If you know that you have a long journey coming up, then applying heat to the area can begin to alleviate or prevent any pain from surfacing. There are several ways to apply to heat to your back:
A microwaveable heat pad is reusable and you can microwave it before your journey to get the pad hot and this can be placed between the back of your seat and your lower back. The only problem with this is the amount of heat decreases and to replenish the heat you’ll need to microwave it again.
A heating pad uses your cigarette lighter as a power source to provide a consistent heat source and you can use it on demand throughout your journey.
A heat wrap has adhesive strapping that allows you to attach it directly to your skin for even closer heat transfer and continuous heat. These can be picked up from your local health store and can supply heat for up to six hours.
Alternatively if your car has heated seats then these can be turned on to provide continuos supply of low level heat to keep your lower back muscles warm. If you’ve never used the heated seat function then refer to your vehicle owners manual and follow the instructions.
A common problem that often makes back pain worse is the positioning of the mirrors. Re-adjust your mirrors to make sure that you don’t have to twist or move to be able to see them. This may seem like a small twist or tilt, but having to do this numerous times has a cumulative effect and is what can cause a lot of pain.
When you adjust your mirrors, make sure that you are sitting straight and have the correct posture, and then when you’re driving if you can’t see your mirrors this will be a reminder that you’re slouching so you’ll sit up straight and protect your back.
Cold Pack For Pain
Although heat can work for lower back pain, a cold pack can also be applied to treat any inflamed areas. Just like heat packs, you can get instant cold packs so you can easily store these in your vehicle and use them when you need to.
Also it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t apply these directly to the skin and you should always have a layer in between whether this be a cloth or clothing.
Before setting off on your journey the most important thing you can do is get comfortable, because the smallest thing can become a large problem later in the journey leading to pain.
Remove any things from your pockets such as keys, cell phone or wallet as these can throw the spine slightly out of alignment but it only needs to be small to cause pain.
The center of the headrest needs to be placed higher than your ears, especially for safety reasons. This is because if its lower than the ears it increases the amount of damage caused during an accident so you’ll experience greater negative effects of whiplash.
Steering Wheel Position
When driving you should be able to reach the steering wheel whilst maintaining a slight bend in the elbows. You should be able to look in the mirrors just by moving your eyes instead of titling your whole head.
If your comfortable in your seat the position of your hips will be higher than your knees applying support to your shoulder blades. You may need to adjust the base of the seat so you can raise your hips into position.
Many of the roads in the country have not been maintained to a high standard and can be bumps which can jolt your spine. Ensuring your tyres are in the best condition is important because this can act as an added shock absorber so you feel less bumps as you drive, taking the pressure of your back.