Driving is a frequent aggravator of lower back pain. Car travel can involve extended periods of time in a confined fixed position, whether as a driver or passenger. British Chiropractic Association research shows back pain is often caused by poor driving posture. Here are a few tips to help support your back while driving:
The seat back should be angled back and not bolt upright
Ensure your thighs are supported on the length of the seat, and your buttocks are fully back in the seat. This is achieved by leaning forward and shuffling your bottom backwards as far as you can.
Don’t sit too far away from the pedals – this may put extra strain on the neck and upper back.The pedals should be easily reached with your knees slightly bent but ideally not too high, and the seat at its highest comfortable position.
Make sure your arms are bent and comfortable in the right position when holding the steering wheel
Use a lumbar support or rolled up towel and place between the lower back and the seat.
If driving for long periods – make sure you stop frequently and stretch
Stay relaxed to reduce tension in the neck and shoulders.
The angle of the backrest and steering wheel should be adjusted with elbows flexed and shoulders relaxed when holding the wheel at about “9 and 3” or at “4 and 8”
The back of your head (not your neck!) should be very close but not touching the head restraint which is essential to help avoid whiplash injury in the event of an accident. Check your car handbook, but most often the restraint position needs to be raised, something Jeremy finds himself doing frequently when catching a ride from friends!
Remain calm whilst driving! If you’re stuck in stationary traffic or at traffic lights, it may help to think of relaxing, remember to breathe and to be aware if you are tensing. Commonly elbows, wrists, shoulders, buttocks and ankles can all tense unconsciously if we are not careful.
A Backfriend from www.medesign.co.uk gives excellent support, is very well reviewed as a car support and helps keep the pelvis and spine in the correct position. It is light and portable and can then be used in a meeting, plane, cinema or simply on your sofa at home.
Change your seat. Often sports seats give firmer support (find a second hand one from eBay or a breakers yard and cheaper than a new car!). Research one that is comfortable and of course, fits your car. Ultimately, if all your efforts to find a comfortable seat or driving position fail then you may need to buy a new car. Test the seats properly and don’t rush the purchase, ensure the seats are right! Ask for a 24 hour or longer test drive, hire or borrow a potential car. Sometimes buying 2nd hand with an exchange option can be a great way to ensure the seats are right.
Ask Jeremy for a demonstration or trial of the Backfriend. Hopefully these tips will ensure you arrive at your destination pain free.Happy driving!