Many individuals experience back pain from driving, which can really put a damper on your day. After all, many of us rely on our cars to get to work, school, and to take care of countless daily obligations such as doctor's appointments and getting the kids to their extracurricular activities. Additionally, some people make their living behind the wheel. Whether you're a rideshare driver, delivery person, long haul trucker, or are simply out in the field a lot during the day, finding ways to alleviate this back pain from driving is essential.
Here at ChiroCare of Florida, we see countless patients who report the same effects from spending too many hours in the driving seat. Back, neck, and shoulder pain are extremely common but luckily there are steps that you can take to solve the problem. Schedule an appointment today to speak with one of our chiropractors and to receive an evaluation. Together we can develop an individualized treatment plan that will help solve the issue of back pain from driving that so many unfortunately experience. Contact us today to make an appointment at a location nearest you.
Common Causes of Back Pain from Driving
There's no way around it; commutes today are getting longer meaning people are spending longer and longer in their vehicles. Add to that leisure activities such as road trips in lieu of flying, crammed schedules that add hours of driving to your routine, and more, and you're bound to experience the unpleasant back pain that can result from spending too long in the car.
But what is the cause of this back pain? It turns out there are several. The first is that many drivers have poor posture, and being behind the wheel for so long in one position can exacerbate that already poor positioning. This leads to aggravation of the nerves and discs in your back, and puts added pressure and strain on your spine and muscles which ultimately results in pain.
Additionally, other factors such as overuse can cause back pain while driving as well. Driving is an action of habit, many of us do it without even thinking about what movement to make next. This means that we're prone to using the same exact muscle in the same exact ways over and over again, which can lead to fatigue and pain.
This pain can present itself in the upper, middle, or lower back, depending on your unique characteristics. Or, you may notice the pain in your shoulders, neck, or even your hips, thighs, and buttocks. The good news is that there are several ways you can mitigate these negative side effects and resolve back pain from driving once and for all.
6 Driving Tips for Back Pain
Try out a few of these tips to help fix your back pain from driving. Implement one at a time so you can identify which tip is having an impact on your level of pain. Know that it may require different combinations of tips and tricks and that fully resolving any back pain you experience may take some time as well as the help of a professional chiropractor.
Here are our top 6 driving tips to help alleviate back pain on the road.
1) See a Chiropractor
You can do everything else right, but if the muscles and bones in your body are misaligned unfortunately you likely won't see the relief you're craving. See a doctor for a chiropractic adjustment to ensure your muscular-skeletal system is working as it should. Additionally, a chiropractor will be able to identify any areas that require medical treatment to heal, such as a herniated disc or an over-use injury. These are problems that may not resolve on their own and the sooner you seek treatment the better your chances at recovery will fare.
Additionally, a chiropractor will ask you a series of health and lifestyle questions and help you make a comprehensive and individualized plan to improve back pain from driving based on your unique needs.
2) Adjust Your Seat, Headrest, and Steering Wheel
This is a minor tweak that can make a major difference in your level of comfort while driving. Many people don't even realize that their seat may be too close or too far from the steering wheel, or that it may be too high or not high enough. The reality is that the positioning of your seat impacts the posture of your entire body and just a slight deviation can have painful effects.
You also want to make sure that your steering wheel and headrest are at the proper height to provide their intended support without causing strain. You shouldn't have to reach too far to grasp the wheel or tilt your head at an angle to use the headrest. Additionally, when seated your knees should remain at even level with your hips and the back of your seat should rest at an angle between 100 and 110 degrees for the best body support.
3) Add Lumbar Support
Lower back pain from driving is a common complaint, particularly for those who spend many hours in their vehicle at a time. An easy solution to this problem is often to add lumbar support to your car seat. There are many support bands, belts, pillows, and cushions available for purchase today that are relatively inexpensive yet effective at providing the support your lower back needs throughout the day.
Ask your chiropractor if they have a favorite to recommend or check out real user reviews online before you make a purchase.
4) Use Hot and Cold Compresses
Another solution for minimizing pain while driving is to use hot and cold compresses on the affected area, particularly while you are in the car. There are many different options available, such as no-mess heat packs that don't require any batteries or power source or cold packs you can grab from the freezer before you go.
5) Adjust Your Mirrors
If you're experiencing pain in your neck or shoulders, make sure that your mirrors are properly adjusted. Having mirrors that are not correctly aligned in your vehicle can cause strain and injury from repeated motion or overuse. You should be able to glance out of every mirror on your vehicle without physically turning your head or neck.
6) Take a Break
Spending an extended period of time sedentary in the car isn't good for you. In fact, it can increase levels of muscle and back pain from driving. Your muscular-skeletal system is designed to stay in motion and a healthy amount of movement is necessary. If you have to spend a long time driving, try to get in a few breaks.
During these breaks, it's best to get completely out of the vehicle for several minutes. Walk around, stretch your back, arms, neck, and legs, and get your blood moving. This can prevent muscle knots, stiffness, and more.
Schedule an Appointment Today
Back pain from driving is an unfortunate reality for countless South Florida residents. However, there is help available. If you're experiencing pain in your back and neck and believe that long hours driving may be the cause, contact us today. Schedule an appointment for a chiropractic evaluation and start on your journey to pain-free living now.