Experts say up to 80% of the population will have back pain in varying degrees in their adult years. It often interrupts daily routines and makes life less enjoyable. There are countless causes for back pain; it comes from some of our most common everyday activities. Take driving, for example. Many people experience back pain from driving either on their regular commutes or long-distance road trips. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to prevent or decrease this type of back pain. Follow our tips to manage your back pain and keep moving freely.
As with most injuries, one of the best ways to ease the possible pain or prevent the problem altogether is to do some stretching before the activity. Stretching your back out before a long car ride can significantly affect how you feel during the drive. This stretching allows the back to be warmed up, and the muscles engaged in sitting correctly, avoiding pain. These stretches don't have to be complicated or take a long time. Just a few simple moves that target each area of the back should do the trick. Talk to your chiropractor to get great suggestions for your specific case!
Many people ignore the fact that their cars' seats can be adjusted to fit their body type, size, and needs. Some simple changes to your seat's positioning can completely change the way you sit in your car. Slumping and having poor posture are the most common causes of back pain. Try different positioning in your seat to get the best, most natural pose. Pay close attention to the distance from the steering wheel, your thighs' angle, and how straight your back can be. Correcting these things should eliminate a lot of uncomfortable back pain.
Sometimes car seats aren't comfortable and aren't set up for your specific body. That's okay; you can still get your seat set up to work for you. You can add many additional supports to get the correct positioning, and many are relatively inexpensive. The most common support people use is lumbar pillows for the lower back. These generally add more cushioning (though some aren't soft) to push your hips and back forward to keep you sitting up straight. Even just the reminder to sit up straight from the support does a lot of good.
Good posture is key to a healthy, strong back. But, surprisingly, good posture comes from more than just your back. Your whole body affects the way you stand and carry yourself in your day to day activities. When sitting in your car, your feet play a significant role in your posture while driving. Keeping them planted firmly on the ground (when cruise control is appropriate) will help you manage a straight posture much better. If cruise control isn't possible, try to keep your unused foot flat on the floor to eliminate pressure.
It's not surprising that the way your car drives on the road can significantly impact your ability to manage back pain. If your tires are losing their tread, the shocks are going bad, or the suspension is stiff, you may experience a bumpier ride. All of that jostling keeps you from maintaining your good posture. It can also cause some slight whiplash, muscle cramping, or alignment issues. Paying attention to these car parts and replacing them when necessary to keep a smooth ride will go a long way to helping with back pain.
If you regularly experience pain on long trips, you might consider changing your car seat's temperature occasionally to reduce it. Some cars come with built-in seat warmers; this is a great way to give your lower back muscles a little bit of relief while still moving toward your destination. Placing a towel on the seat behind your back may also have a similar effect. Bringing along an ice pack to put on the sore areas is another great idea if you prefer cold therapy. The change in temperature can give your back the boost of relief; it needs to keep holding firm.
Road trips present their own set of problems because of an extended period of time in a particular position, so it's beneficial to make frequent stops. During these stops, you want to be sure to move around and change positions to keep your muscles warm and engaged. It's even a good idea to revisit the stretches you did before beginning your drive. Taking a short walk around a parking lot will get your blood flowing enough to continue without much pain.
Sitting in an uncomfortable position in the car for any period of time can lead to back pain. But that's not the only way a car can cause back pain. Every day there are more than 16,000 car accidents across the country. The level of injury and pain depends on the severity of the accident. But most people walk away from an accident a little sore and slightly in pain at the very least. Driving with care and trying to be as safe as possible can eliminate unnecessary back pain from accidents. Though accidents aren't completely unavoidable, doing your part to stay safe can make a big difference.
Back pain from driving is a considerable annoyance. No one likes to get to their destination only to find out that they really can't stand up straight, and the activities they had planned are much less enjoyable because their back hurts. Don't let that be you on your next drive. Instead, prepare yourself to take the best care of your back possible. Contact us today for even more tips and tricks to keep your back in the best shape possible!