Driving can be a pleasure for many, but if you suffer from lower back pain it can be anything but fun. Follow these 6 tips to minimise pain and make your journey as smooth and relaxing as possible.
1. GET COMFORTABLE
Good posture when sitting is vital for physical health in any situation. Driving is no exception. As you get into the car, step in and enter backwards, hips first. This ensures you are not sitting down on your sensitive tailbone, but instead your weight is on the back of your thighs.
Ensure the base of your spine is against the back of the seat. Adjust the space between your seat and the pedals so your knees are slightly bent when you press your foot against them. Your seat back should be angled so your elbows are slightly bent when holding the steering wheel.
The last thing you need in the driving seat is a hunched back – you should feel like you’re sitting naturally. Very tall people may need to re-angle the steering wheel to achieve this. If you can, adjust the cushion of the seat to make a gap of two or three fingers between the back of your knees and the seat.
Make the top of the headrest level with the top of your head. It can feel strange at first, but this puts your spine in its correct alignment, and helps protect against whiplash in the event of a collision.
2. GET SUPPORTED
Sometimes, your car seat may not provide enough support. In this case, you can use a backboard, which can be bent into a suitable curve and placed behind the middle of your back, in the rib cage area. This provides stable lumbar support and pushes your back into a natural “S” position while sitting in the driving seat. It’s especially useful on long drives where you may fall into an unnatural slouched position while driving.
3. TAKE REGULAR BREAKS FROM SITTING
Experts have linked sitting for too long with serious health conditions, from back pain to high blood pressure and type two diabetes, dubbing the phenomenon “sitting disease”.
One expert alarmed by sitting disease, Becky Lees of BackPainHelp.com, says activities like driving have made our lifestyles too sedentary. She recommends moving every hour, for at least 10 minutes, to prevent problems caused by sitting down in one position for too long. So be sure to pull over, get out of the car and take some low impact exercise, like walking and / or stretching every hour or so.
4. TRY COOL PADS
Put cool pads in your cooler along with any food prepared for a long journey. If your back begins to feel sore while driving, pull over and apply the ice pack to the site of pain for around 20 minutes. The ice will reduce pain by numbing sore tissue as well as reducing swelling and inflammation. Using the Backboard sleeve or Back brace can help to avoid putting the pads against naked skin to prevent ice burn.
5. TRY HEAT THERAPY
Alternating hot and cold compresses can really help back pain, so you can use instant heat hot pads you when you leave the house, or even on longer journeys, again using your Backboard or Back Brace to heat your targeted pain relief area as you drive. These hot pads can be used up to 100 times and are a fantastic accessory for the car.
6. TAKE OVER-THE-COUNTER PAINKILLERS
Many prescription painkillers cause drowsiness or impair judgement and should never be used while driving. Carry some mild yet effective non-prescription painkillers instead, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen; however, bare in mind that this is only a short-term pain relief option and does not fix the problem at hand.