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March 22, 2021 | Farah Jassawalla

Preventing Back Pain While Driving

Most people tend to experience back pain while driving due to sitting in an uncomfortable or constrained position for a prolonged period, coupled with low-frequency vibrations penetrating throughout their whole body. If this back pain persists or becomes more frequent, you may even become unable or unwilling to drive at some point.

For people who have to drive to work every day, this issue can exacerbate fairly quickly. Therefore, it’s important to know how to take care of this problem, because not only does it make your everyday car ride an uncomfortable experience, it could also lead to more serious back problems later in life.

The following are some tips to help prevent driving-related back pain:

Adjusting Your Seat/Headrest:

One way you can alleviate your back pain is by adjusting your seat correctly. Ideally, there should not be a large amount of distance between you and the steering wheel. It shouldn’t be close enough that it compromises your safety, but it should be close enough that your arms, shoulders, back, and neck don’t have to go through an extra level of strain to reach and control the steering wheel.

This way, you won’t have to strain to reach the pedals as well and it’ll be easier to make sure that your knees aren’t higher than your hips, which is important to maintain a good posture.

Your headrest should be in the middle and you should keep your head, neck, and shoulders in a neutral position.

Creating Lumbar Support:                     

Keeping your back centered against the seat maximizes back support for you. But since most vehicles don’t have adequate lumbar support, it might be wise to consider adding a lumbar support accessory to your car. This could be in the form of a rolled-up sweatshirt, placed behind the small of your back.

Bending your knees ever so slightly above your hips can also take the pressure off of your lower back and help relieve some of that tension.

Correcting the Way You Get In/Out of Your Vehicle:

This is an important one but one that’s often overlooked. Yes, there is a correct way of getting into and out of your vehicle, one that protects your back. When you are getting in, you should sit down in the seat first, facing away from the seat or towards the car door. Once you have sat down, put your feet in and then face the front. You should be very careful not to twist your back.

When getting out, swivel out of the vehicle, again facing away from the seat. You can make use of the door to help yourself scoot forward or install a device like a strap that helps you move that way.

Creating a Smooth Drive:

For most drivers, the worst kind of driving is driving on bumpy roads because that does the most damage to our spine. There are a few ways to avoid this, like driving a sedan as opposed to a pickup truck or SUV. You can also replace worn shocks to ensure a smoother ride. You should also replace worn tires and reduce the tire pressure slightly because this will also help your ride be less bumpy.

Another convenient option is to use a pillow as a seat cushion, the kind that is made for armchairs.

Getting the Right Vehicle:

If you don’t own a car yet, this point is extremely important. The best thing you can do is choose a car with power seating and large outside mirrors. You should also choose one that is easy to get into in addition to radar detection on the front, rear, and sides.

In case of persistent back pain, please consult a professional to ensure it doesn’t last.

Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and a healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.