Driving long-distance and being trapped in traffic are major causes of back pain while driving. Moreover, the increasing potholes and sudden bumps on the roads affect the back. The list doesn’t end. There’s a lot more to it. So, the question is. Can we afford to stop driving? I’m sure your answer would be NO. As a matter of fact, driving a car these days is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. We all need to drive to live up to our family’s needs and drive to our workplace.
Hence, in this article, I have penned down the reasons behind back pain for driving. After long hours of research, I have put down some of the best ways of preventing back pain while driving.
Why Does Your Back Hurt While Driving?
So, why does your back hurt while driving? Why do we all experience uneasiness while driving? There are many reasons for this. Let’s discuss them all in detail.
The Shape of the Car Seat
Firstly, the shape of the car seat contributes to back pain while driving. This is because it is not designed to match your back’s natural alignment. Your body experiences a lot of different forces in a car. Right from accelerations to side to side swaying, and vibrations. Further, being in a fixed position for an extended period of time impacts your back. To avoid this, you should adjust your car seat in the required position. Also, change your position from time to time. We shall discuss this in detail in the next section.
Vibrations Lead to Back Pain while Driving
Believe it or not, but the vibration of the spine pushes on the discs between your vertebrae. Additionally, the bumps and other movements also contribute to the same. Thus, this affects the cushions that act as shock absorbers and allow spinal movement. This, in turn, causes mechanical damage to the discs. The combination of these factors along with the design of the car seat increases the chance of back problems for most of the people.
Feet are Constantly Using the Pedals
Since the feet are constantly using the accelerator, brake and clutch while driving. They are not able to provide support to the back. This, therefore, is another reason for back pain while driving. Your feet aren’t being able to stabilize your lower body. The way they would if you were sitting on a comfortable chair. Also, we tend to sit in the wrong way while driving in order to use these pedals. Hence, an ideal solution is to take a 15 minutes break for every 2 hours of driving.
The Stress of Driving in Heavy Traffic
Did you know that the stress of driving is a form of mental stress? Well, it’s proved that stress of driving in heavy traffic and long distances leads to back pain while driving. Additionally, it makes your driving experience more miserable.
How to Prevent Back Pain While Driving?
For anyone who spends a lot of time driving each day. Whether it’s commuting to your workplace or road trips. Here lie the best practical steps that you can take to prevent back pain while driving.
Adjust your seat for Preventing Back Pain While Driving
Firstly, always adjust your car seat in such a way that it makes contact with your back. This contact with your back should be from your bottom till your shoulders. Moreover, it should be at an angle of about 100 to 110 degrees Celcius. Reclining far back will make you strain your head and neck forward.
Adjust the Steering Wheel
Ensure you adjust the steering wheel in your car up or down to the most comfortable position. Besides this, it should be positioned at an ideal distance from your body. Make sure you don’t sit too far away either. Since it becomes difficult for you to reach for the steering wheel causing discomfort. It places more stress on the lumbar spine, neck, shoulders and wrist. Furthermore, changing your hand position while driving helps relieve joints and improve circulation.
Bumps in the road can jar your spine and increase the pain. Hence, you should fix shockers and other things available to make your ride as smooth as possible. For all those who are not very familiar with shockers. Shockers also known as shock absorbers are very strong springs. They are fixed under the car body near the wheels. Whenever the wheels of the car get into bumps and uneven surfaces. That time the spring absorbs the shock or the impulse of the ground. Furthermore, they are mechanical or hydraulic devices designed to absorb and damp shock impulses. Besides this, you need to replace worn tires to reduce vibration and shaking.
Keep your Feet Flat at Traffic Signals
Since you’ve been driving continuously, I understand that you get habituated keeping your feet on the paddles. But, ensure you keep your feet flat in the car at traffic signals at least. That 2-5 minutes of a break will help in some way. You need to do this since your feet are responsible for providing support to your back. Your feet aren’t being able to stabilize your lower body when they’re constantly using the clutch, brake and accelerator.
Supporting your spine starts with bottom-up leverage from your feet. As a matter of fact, your feet need to be placed on a firm surface. Also, they need to be placed at the right height to avoid transferring stress to your lower back. Therefore, taking breaks while driving is of utmost importance. Giving rest to your feet and keeping them flat for some time is mandatory.
Straighten your Lower Back Often
Ensure you straighten your lower back often. Make sure you’re comfortable throughout your trip. What is minor in the beginning can get worse with time and turn into raging pain. Therefore, try to keep your back pockets empty. Men are more prone to this since women usually carry a handbag. And keep their phone, and purse in it. But men keep their wallet and phones in their back pocket. Sitting on your phone, wallet or anything else can alter the natural alignment of the spine.
In addition to this, sit up straight with your knees slightly higher than your hips. Further, keep your chin pulled in so that your head sits straight on top of your spine.
Move Around in your Car Seat at Regular Intervals
Try to move a little in your car seat whenever possible. You can do this when there’s less traffic on the way or if it’s a straight or broad road. I understand that we all need to stay completely focused on a road with high traffic. Also when the road is narrow or we constantly need to take a turn. So, when it is smooth, move yourself every 30 seconds for better results or at least a minute. Additionally, you can also stretch a little. Adjust your seat if you’re experiencing discomfort. Stretch your arms at traffic signals. Turn to talk to the friends/family sitting behind and side of you in the car.
Get Out of the Car & Move Around at Regular Intervals
Sitting in the same position will stiffen up your back muscles. This can lead to achiness and possibly muscle spasm. Ideally, everyone who drives should take a 15 minutes break for every 2 hours of driving. If you’re prone to back pain or suffer from severe backache often. Then taking breaks more frequently such as every 30 to 60 minutes is mandatory.
Stop wherever you can. Wherever possible. Get out of the car so that you can move around or take a small walk. Stretch yourself including your arms. Movement stimulates blood circulation. This, in turn, brings nutrients and oxygen to your lower back.
Get a Car Seat Massager for Back Pain While Driving
A car seat massager is a necessity nowadays. Car seat massagers are designed to relieve you from back, shoulder and neck problems. Besides this, you don’t need to fix an appointment with the physiotherapist. The car seat massager is as good as a masseur or physiotherapist and will replace them. You will not only save time but also expensive visitation charges/treatment costs. Hence, just sit back and relax in your car when you use it. A car seat massager massages your muscles while you drive. It rejuvenates your back, neck, shoulders and entire spin.
The best car seat massagers available in India are Grin Health Full Back Shiatsu Seat Massager and JSB Kneading Car Seat Massager. Consider purchasing one of these to experience a sense of relief from back pain.
Listen to Music or Podcast
Employing diversions from pain can make a big difference. Ensure you plan something to take your mind off the pain. It doesn’t matter if you’re the driver for the entire trip. There are a few options which will help you. Firstly, you can try a new music channel. Listening to good soothing music will divert your mind from the stress of driving. This, in turn, will avoid the chance of back pain. Or, you can download a podcast or listen to an audiobook.
Some tips for your family members/friends commuting with you could be reading a book or magazine. Since they are passengers and won’t be driving. They have many additional choices such as meditating and watching a show. Furthermore, solving sudoku, a crossword puzzle or playing an electronic game will be beneficial.
Stretch Before and After Driving
Before you start driving, you need to prepare yourself. Or I would say you need to prepare your body for it. Therefore make it a habit to do some stretching before you start to drive. Firstly, stretch side to side, and then bend forward and backwards. In addition to this, you can twist and stretch arms upwards. Your ankles need exercise too. This will help keep the blood flowing. Ensure you repeat these forms of stretching after driving too.
Don’t Make Driving a Pain in the Back
For all of you who spend many hours driving or if you drive on a daily basis. Then this article is a must-read for you. After long hours of thorough research, I have penned down the causes of back pain while driving and also ways to prevent it. Trust me. Even I tried some of these and it really worked. I know that the numerous potholes on these Indians roads combined with the unending traffic is a real pain. These bumpy drives especially when the roads are narrow need more focus which leads to stress.
Listen to good soothing music as it really helps. I understand that you’re unable to move on your car seat while wearing a seat belt. But, wherever possible you can stop your car for some time and straighten your back. The alignment of your spine is what matters the most. Avoid negligence. Purchase the best car seat massager. Also, if you suffer from severe back pain often. Then consider purchasing the best massager machine for lower back pain in India.