There’s something about driving, isn’t there? The long roads, the beautiful landscapes, the great music on the stereo, and the back pain.
Wait, what? Back pain? Yes, that’s right. While we all love taking long road trips with loved ones or indulging in the much-needed downtime on our drive to the takeout, driving can take an unanticipated physical toll.
On that note, traveling season is upon us and it’s my guess that the gas tank is full and you’ve already packed your swim shorts and sunscreen for a well-deserved holiday. Well, in that case, you best keep reading. I’m here to tell you all about how to avoid back pain when driving and why you get it in the first place.
Let’s jump straight in!
3 Reasons Why You’re NOT Avoiding Back Pain When Driving
Reason 1: Poor Posture
Sitting in a car seat can be tough on your back at the best of times, but being stuck in that position for long durations of time, or for many days consecutively, can wreak absolute havoc on your back muscles and spine. Not only is your mobility and general movement restricted, but your neck, shoulders, back, and hips, are forced into a largely unnatural position. The result? Pain… and at times, a lot of it.
Reason 2: Lack of Movement
As mentioned above, car rides restrict movement. I’m sure you’ve experienced the frustration of not being able to stretch your legs or arms as you’d like to, right? Well, it goes even deeper than that. Your muscles stay unnaturally still during long journeys, thereby causing them to spasm or, over long periods of time, become very inflexible. All of this can result in back pain, more spasms, and ultimately, a vicious cycle.
Reason 3: Not Stretching Ahead of the Drive
I don’t think you realized how important this is, did you?
To avoid back pain when driving you must stretch your muscles before you drive, or the consequences can be far-reaching: stiffness and pain at the end of the road, but looking further ahead, prolonged back issues if you’re not careful. Many, many people could avoid back pain if they just stretched prior to driving.
To be honest, the list can be exhaustive when it comes to back pain and driving, and really, the key to avoiding injury and discomfort is to prepare ahead of time. Nope, I don’t mean grabbing a Starbucks before hitting the highway, though that would be nice. I’m talking about making sure that the environment and your body are both ready for the journey ahead. Let’s see how you can do that…
6 Easy Tips To Avoid Back Pain When Driving
#1 Stretching Ahead of Time
You knew I was going to say this, didn’t you? Stretching ahead of your journey remains the single most important thing you can do to avoid back pain when driving.
Make sure that when you stretch, you work through all the major muscles in your back, legs, shoulders, and neck – don’t skip through the stretches to avoid traffic! Give yourself enough time to really ease into the stretches – lengthen your muscles and prepare yourself for the relatively cramped car seat.
#2 Take the Time to Adjust Your Seat… Even If You’re Switching Drivers Along the Way
Do you remember your driving test? Remember how meticulously you checked your mirrors, your seat, your seatbelt, and your neck rest?
Well, why do anything differently when it comes to back pain?
You have to make sure that your seat is adjusted properly: don’t lean too far forward or back, and make sure your feet are able to reach the pedals comfortably. If you drive an automatic vehicle, ensure that you aren’t crammed up against the dashboard, but are well within reach of the break. Make sure you are able to stretch your arms out ahead of you without straining and give yourself enough lee-way to stretch your neck.
There is nothing more uncomfortable than having to drive scrunched up and being restricted.
#3 And What About the Steering Wheel?
You didn’t think I would forget about the most important part of your posture alignment, did you? The steering wheel takes the first prize when it comes to avoiding back pain when driving!
Always take the time to adjust it in such a way that your back remains supported and you do not strain forward. Some cars may do this automatically, but if not, make sure you understand how to adjust the height and length of the steering wheel.
#4 Work on Your Posture
It’s very easy to slip into a ‘sofa’ pose as your cruise down the road listening to the Beetles, but it is incredibly important to remain aware of your posture at all times.
If you feel yourself slumping or leaning too far back into the seat, take a minute to re-adjust your posture. Your back will certainly thank you for it when you reach your destination!
#5 Take Regular Breaks
If you needed an excuse to stop over for a coffee and a snack, then I’m happy to give you one!
Taking regular breaks during longer journeys is essential when it comes to avoiding back pain. Once you park, make sure to get out of the car, stretch, rehydrate, and re-center your focus. Ensure that you’re aware of your posture and, if you’re in pain, make the necessary adjustments to your seat and mirrors, this way you can avoid back pain while you’re driving and prevent it from bothering you when you reach your destination!
#6 Cruise Control
If your car is equipped with cruise control, then you’re quite lucky! Cruise control enables you to take a break from one single seating position in order to shift into another. Be sure, though, that whichever position you choose is supportive of your back and ensures that your posture remains correct.
Here’s the thing… as much as we crave the sunshine and that relaxing break away from home. Back pain related to driving is very much something you don’t want to interrupt your vacation.
So, why not contact a professional, hands-on physical therapist to help you prevent it? Yes, that’s right, physical therapists can help you avoid back pain by showing you how to correct your posture, adjust your seats, and stretch properly.
And not only that, physical therapy will help you eradicate back pain if you’re already suffering from it! By treating the root cause of the problem, physical therapy will help you maintain a pain-free life while simultaneously equipping you with the tools to carry on your healthy journey at home!
So, really, the road to a pain-free back is much shorter than you think. Don’t let long-distance driving put a damper on your vacation!
Come For A Travel Ready Assessment!
If you’ve been experiencing back pain for a while, or the pain is just getting worse and you’re beginning to worry your travel date is just around the corner, relax. We can help you reduce lower back pain and get you prepared before you travel!
Right now we’re offering our travel-ready assessment where you can speak to one of our expert physical therapists who will help you create a personalized treatment plan, answer any questions you may have, and put you at ease about traveling with lower back pain.
Then finally you can get back to feeling confident with travel and have a smooth journey without lower back pain making your journey a nightmare!
Other Free Resources To Help You Travel Pain-Free!
Read Our Blog – How To Feel Confident When Traveling With Hip Pain
Grab a copy of our free Downloadable Back Pain Report for 10 tips to ease back pain without using painkillers or slowing down