If you have back pain, being in the car for a long period of time can be a challenge. According to research, 4 out of 5 people suffer from lower back pain – which means that a lot of people may be finding driving uncomfortable. Although the position of sitting down is not necessarily the cause of the pain, it can no doubt aggravate it – and with how frequently many of us drive, we need to be mindful.
The Telegraph reported on research that osteopath Brian McIlwraith conducted in the '90s, which focused on the effect that driving has on our backs. The article states that although he feels car makers have begun to fix many of the problems that cause the pain, there is still some work to do. “There are still some cars where the wheel is at an angle which makes the driver’s shoulders rotate compared to their pelvis. I’d also like to see more cars with adjustable lumbar support that goes up and down to enable different heights of driver to get comfortable,” he explains.
Take the time to get comfortable before you set off. Try to make sure that you’re not having to reach too far for the steering wheel, which puts more stress on the spine, neck, shoulder, and wrists.
You should also sit with your back against the back of the seat, which may mean that you have to add more support in the form of cushions or pillows. Spine health professionals advise that you can buy many types of cushions which are often gel-filled or made of memory foam materials. In the short-term, you can also use a small pillow from your home, or even roll up a scarf and place it behind your lower back to create support.
If you really suffer while driving, then it may be time to swap your manual motor for an automatic. Some studies show that automatic cars can place less strain on your back, due to you not having to constantly push your foot on the clutch – which puts pressure on the lumbar discs.
One of the best ways to prevent back pain while driving is to stop regularly, particularly if you suffer on longer journeys. Getting out of the car, doing some light stretching, and moving around a bit can help to alleviate the pain before it gets a chance to build up.
Even little changes, such as adapting how you get in and out of your car, can help to prevent pain. Make sure you rotate your whole body to get out, rather than twisting, to put less pressure on your back. Also go carefully if you have to load things in and out of your vehicle; remember to bend your knees when putting things in the boot.