Yes, Long Drives Can Cause Back Pain

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November 24, 2023
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When you have to drive long distances, your back and body are sure to suffer. There are two major reasons why driving causes back pain. First of all, you probably have poor posture while sitting behind the wheel and second, you’re in a fixed position for an extended period.

Driving has many benefits, but it can also be hazardous to your health. The long hours of sitting down at a desk or in the car have been shown to lead to back pain and other issues like headaches. While endurance is important for most drivers, you should still take precautions while on the road! 

Adjust the Seat and the Headrest

The first step is to adjust the seat correctly. You should sit close to the steering wheel, then slide forward and backward until your legs are comfortable. 

The car seat position can make or break your driving experience. Proper positioning will minimize the stress on your neck, lower back, and wrists. So how do you know where to sit? You should be able to reach the steering wheel with minimal effort. 

If you are too high in a chair, then it’s going to put more pressure on your hands and wrists as well as strain your lower back. The right height for a seat is when you’re just comfortable so that there’s no unnecessary lifting of arms or shoulders involved in gripping the wheel. 

Adjusting the angle of your seat also helps take some strain off of other parts like neck and shoulders while at the same time keeping you properly positioned for optimal support from headrests- especially if you prefer leaning against them instead of holding yourself upright all day long. /

The one thing about sitting too low (say in a racecar) is that it feels more like an extension of muscle movement whereas higher seats don’t feel quite as instinctive because they’re not designed for extended periods without adjustments being made every now and again. Sitting up straight will also give way to less slouching which leads to better posture!

Have Lumbar Support

Your back should be at the center of the seat to maximize back support. You may need to add a lumbar support accessory because many vehicles do not offer adequate lower back support.

If you’re not able to get a new car seat, don’t worry – you can use an old sweatshirt or towel to support your back while driving.

Change The Steering Wheel Grip

Researchers say that the best way to minimize back pain is by positioning your hands at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock for increased safety. You should also position your hands in this way if you’re sitting on a seatbelt because airbags deploy very quickly.

It allows you to rest your elbows on the vehicle’s armrest which will surely alleviate pain, especially in the upper back.  Your new car’s armrest should make it easier to work for hours on end, you’ll be able to rest your elbows with ease. 

Use Cruise Control

You can drive for hours without feeling the strain on your back! When cruise control is activated, you can put both feet down and relax. This will distribute your weight evenly and keep you from getting cramps or trouble breathing.

Use Heated Seat Option if Available

Driving can be a painful experience for people with sore muscles or other ailments. Luckily, many vehicles offer heated seats to help relieve some of this pain. With these heaters, you’ll also enjoy decreased pain transmission and increased blood flow which in turn will bring more nutrients and oxygen to the affected area.

If your vehicle doesn’t have a heated seat, you can easily add one with the purchase of a heated seat cover. This accessory will be perfect for those long drives in wintertime!

Take Breaks and Stretch

Sitting down for long periods of time can be bad for your back. If you have the opportunity, pull over the side of the road or at a gas station to stretch out and move around. This will help keep your back muscles from getting stiff and lead to aches, spasms, and pain.

Try Hot Or Cold Therapy

It’s no secret that many people find relief from pain by applying cold or heat therapy. In fact, it’s a tried and true method of reducing pain without the use of medication during long trips.

  • Cold therapy is an effective way to reduce swelling and inflammation. Consider bringing a cooler with reusable ice packs or other cold therapy packs so you can have them on hand at all times. You can buy these products at your local store, but you may also want to try making your own.
  • Heat therapy is an excellent way to help increase blood flow and relax muscles. There are different types of heat therapy that you can purchase, such as a heated wrap or pad. If you don’t want to buy one, there’s also the option of making your own moist heat pack. Some people prefer microwaving their own pad because it stays warm for longer periods of time and they’re able to take it on trips with them so they always have one.

If you are experiencing back pain and want to avoid it, give this a try. Doing this will stimulate blood circulation in your back and prevent future pains from occurring.

Driver experiencing back pain during a long drive, highlighting the impact of extended driving
Navigating the Challenges of Back Pain on Lengthy Journeys.

And just a few extra pieces of advice:  

  • Keep your back straight and sit up straight. Take care not to slouch, which can put pressure on the lower back muscles, spine, and nerves that run down the legs.
  • Apply a cold pack or heat therapy, which are both easy ways to relieve stress from tight muscles without having to stop often.
  • Make sure you’re comfortable from the moment you start your trip. The smallest irritant can turn into a raging pain later on.
  • Keep your back pockets empty and avoid sitting on your wallet, phone, or anything else to maintain a healthy spine.

These are just simple tips and changes you can do to help prevent pain in the lower back while or after driving long distances. Always be mindful of your posture during the period you spend staying in one position. Your spine is made for movement, and when you cease to move for some time, you start to develop aching, stiffness, and pain.



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Hello my name is tavone and I've been going to Yentz Family Chiropractic for almost 2 months now when I 1st started I had Chronic back pains every-time I walked, even getting out of bed every morning was difficult & I'm under 30 now that I've been seeing dr Karl I have no more back pains no more nerve pains I don't walk with a limp anymore I'm more comfortable and relieved of pain!
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