When speaking to patients with back pain, one of the most common complaints is that driving seems to make it worse. Treatments such as physiotherapy (click here for more info) or chiropractic, both of which you can find at The House Clinics, can help correct bad posture, but there is clearly a pattern here and this article will explore why travelling by car can make the pain worse, and what you can do to prevent this.

The reason back pain comes on or gets worse while driving is largely due to inactivity and poor posture. Particularly with longer journeys the postural muscles that hold us upright begin to fatigue and we end up in a more slumped position.

At this stage the ergonomic design of the seat plays a large part as you will tend to rely on support from the car seat to support your back. Establishing the ideal driving position is difficult as people’s height and weight vary widely, but here are a few tips and tricks to give you the best chance of arriving pain free.

Firstly if you share the car, then each time you get in make sure you move the seat back to the right position for you. The back of the seat should be set back slightly and your elbows should be at a comfortable angle for driving otherwise you will end up leaning forwards which gives tension in your shoulders and upper back.

Back Pain

If necessary adjust the lumbar support or use a cushion in your low back. Your hands should fall naturally onto the steering wheel to prevent leaning forwards and there should be a slight bend in the arms. Having adjusted the seat and steering wheel, check that there is the recommended ten inches of distance between you and the airbag cover on the steering wheel.

The next checks to make are the mirrors. The mirrors should be turned to you, rather than the other way around. This means you want to be able to check all mirrors with minimal head movements, as the more you have to make an effort to see out of the mirrors the more strain you will put on your neck and back. You should be able to see all around the car simply by moving your eyes.

In our next article, we’ll talk about the effect of seat belts and the importance of footwear. Check back soon as we will be posting part 2 very soon.

Thanks for reading and we hope you found that helpful.


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