How To Avoid Back Pains Caused By Driving

Sitting in a car for an extended period of time can take a toll on your back, but there are steps you can take to prevent stiff, sore muscles and joints. Below are a few tips to help you prevent muscle aches after a period of driving.

1.) Sitting Mindfully In A Car

Enter the car hips first. Try not to just jump in and out of your car. Bring your hips into the car first, sit on the seat, then rotate your knees to bring them in front of you. When you exit, rotate your knees out of the car, then step up and lift yourself out of the seat. If you have an SUV, truck, or other automobile with a high step, see if you can add an extra step or running board to make it easier to get in and out of your seat. Sit up straight while driving your car.

Take your wallet, keys, and other items out of your back pocket before sitting in the car. A packed wallet and other pocket-fillers can throw your pelvis out of alignment, which could cause or aggravate back pain. Avoid reaching across the car while driving to look for things in the passenger seats or trying to reach for a disturbing child or pet because overextending yourself while seated in a car can hurt your back. If possible, pull over, get down from your driver seat and attend to whatever you may need to do before continuing with your journey.

2.) Adjusting Your Seat

Bring your seat forward so your elbow and knees are slightly bent. You should be close enough to the steering column that you can steer with your elbows slightly bent and access the pedals with slightly bent knees. Grabbing the wheel with fully extended elbows can cause back and arm pain. The steering wheel should be roughly 10 to 12 inches away from your chest.

Set your seat as high as possible so that your legs are relaxed and slightly bent. You should be able to see out of the car with ease and without obstruction. Position the headrest so it’s in line with the top of your head while sitting the car, your head should lie comfortably against the headrest or be held within two to three inches of it.

The best time to adjust mirrors and other instruments is when you’ve put yourself in a comfortable, ergonomic driving position. Set your mirrors so that they’re positioned for a non-slumping vantage point. If, while driving, your mirrors seem like they need to be readjusted, you’ll know that you’re starting to slouch and need to sit up straight.

3.) Using Pillows And Supports

If your car doesn’t have a built-in adjustable lumbar support, you can make your own. Roll up a towel, blanket, or tee shirt and place it at the base of the seat’s back rest. This should support your lower back’s natural curves and help keep you from slouching.

Getting a seat cushion if your seat is too deep is your best option to help you maintain a more ergonomic position. Your knees and hips should be on approximately the same plane, with your slightly bent knees resting at a height just higher than your hips. You should make an adjustment if, when you sit in the car, your knees are bent at a 90 degree angle and their tops are at a much greater height than your hips.

Ask your doctor about supports and long-term solutions if you haven’t had much luck with rolling towels or sitting on pillows, you might want to invest in a support or cushion specially designed to prevent and relieve back pain due to driving. Ask your doctor to recommend a product that will address your specific back issues.

Here is a very short video that helps to illustrate the best position to sit while driving:

About Nonso Okafor

I've worked as a technical support representative in major auto centers in Nigeria for more than twenty years. I have dealt with a variety of problems in my capacity as a customer service representative and auto diagnostics expert. I'm committed to assisting people in properly maintaining their automobiles and in appreciating this magnificent innovation known as an automobile.

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