7 Tips to Alleviate Back Pain When Driving

Back pain is characterized by pain in the back associated with the spinal cord. It may originate from discs between the vertebrae, ligaments around the spine and discs, spinal cord and nerves, skeletal muscle and synovial joints of the spine.

When you have back pain, riding in the car for an hour or more can be a real challenge. Consider the following advice and see if it helps you out!

1Get comfortable immediately

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Take the time to make sure you’re comfortable from the moment you set off on your trip. The smallest irritant in the beginning of your trip can turn into raging pain later.

  • Keep your back pockets empty: Sitting on your wallet, phone, or anything else may throw your spine out of alignment.
  • Sit up straight with your knees slightly higher than your hips, and keep your chin pulled in so that your head sits straight on top of your spine.
  • Keep your back aligned against the back of your seat: To better support the contour of the inward curve in your lower back, use a small pillow or roll up a scarf and place it between your lower back and the seat. Also, there are many specialized cushions and pillows that can help with sciatica pain and lower back pain.

2Holding the Steering Wheel

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Sit a comfortable distance from the steering wheel, For airbag safety, sitting with your breastbone at least 10 inches from the steering wheel, and keeping your hands on the wheel at 9 and 3 (the sides rather than the top of the wheel). But don’t sit too far away either, which can cause you to reach too far for wheel and places more stress on the lumbar spine, neck, shoulder, and wrists.

3Ride as smooth as possible

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Bumps in the road can jar your spine and increase pain. For a smoother ride, consider:

  • Riding in a passenger car, rather than an SUV or pickup
  • Replacing worn shocks to limit the bounce in the car
  • Replacing worn tires to reduce vibration or shaking
  • Sitting on a car seat pillow or coccyx cushion to provide more padding between you and the road

4Getting in the Car

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When you are getting into the car, first sit and then swing your legs into the car. Just the reverse applies while getting out of the car. First slide the legs out and then get up. This will put less strain on the lower back. People generally let their leg get in and then dump their whole body in. This is an incorrect way of handling body weight. Do not keep anything in your back pocket or the side seat to avoid unsafe twisting of spine. Distribute the weight on both the legs and do not sit with all the weight resting on just one leg.

5Try cold or heat therapy

Applying Heat vs. Cold to an Arthritic Joint

Many people find that applying cold or heat therapy is a good way to alleviate pain on a long road trip.

  • Cold therapy can help reduce inflammation and swelling. Consider bringing a cooler to store reusable ice packs or other cold therapy packs. You can buy cold therapy packs at the store or make your own.
  • Heat therapy can help increase blood flow and relax the muscles. Various types of heat therapy are available to buy, such as heat wraps or heat pads. Some people prefer to place a moist heat pack in the microwave so it’s warm when they go on the trip.

It is recommended to apply ice or heat for only 15 or 20 minutes at a time, then give your skin a rest to recover for at least a couple hours before the next application.

For drivers, it may be best to apply cold or heat therapy while taking a break from driving. Since you are unable to check the skin while driving, it is harder to ensure that the skin is not being damaged during an application of cold or heat therapy. Some cars have heated seats that provide continuous low-level heat, which can be a good option while driving if it is comfortable and provides relief.

6Neck and Shoulder Exercise

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Red lights tend to be very irritating. However one can turn it to one’s advantage. During the wait, you can drink fluids and water to hydrate the body. You can rotate your neck clock wise and anti-clock wise, till you feel light. Bend the head right and rest it on your shoulders. Repeat on the left side. Rotate your shoulders clock wise and anti-clock wise. These exercises will bring warmth and movement to the stiff muscles. This can help prevent back pain while driving.

7Car Cushion and Supporting Material

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Vibration of the car and jolting and bouncing of the car can create nerve tension that can result in back pain. Use car seat cushions or coccyx pillow as shock absorber. The tyres should be well inflated.

Car seats do not support or match the natural curve of your back. Use rolled towels or pillow behind your lower back. The base of your spine should be in contact with the back of the seat. Some people may prefer a towel or pillow support at the shoulder level or for upper back support. Supporting material at the thoracic level or the lumbar level supports the spine. One should not forget that human spine is not straight but an S shaped.

Thus, proper seating arrangements, regular exercises and stretching and correct posture with pre-empt will help you while driving. Have a safe journey.