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Driving and Back Pain

Treatment and prevention of back pain while driving

Driving and Back Pain

Treatment and prevention of back pain while driving

In the current era, where every one is using a car, it is very important to understand how to avoid hurting your back while driving car, especially while traveling long distances. Sitting in same position for a long time, lack of activity while driving, car movements  and bad roads, all contribute to damage to the spine. Even a normal person can have back pain after traveling long distance.

Following tips can help prevent back pain while travelling and to prevent worsening of pain in those who are already suffering with spine problem.

Preventive Measures:

  • Be in a comfortable position while driving
    • Don’t keep anything in back pockets (wallet, phone etc.),
    • Sit at a comfortable distance from steering wheel. Sitting too far behind will cause you to bend forward which will put extra stress on lumbar spine.
    • Keep your back seat straight.
    • Take support of back seat.
  • Have a smooth ride
    • Use a comfortable car for long distance driving,
    • Keep shock absorbers and tyres in good condition,
    • Drive at a comfortable speed and avoid sudden brakes,
    • Avoid bumpy roads,
    • Use a back pillow.
  • Take frequent breaks
    • It is advisable to take 5-10 minutes break after every 2 hrs of driving and
    • Get out of your car and stretch your body
    • Walking will improve blood circulation in legs also.
  • Keep changing your position while driving.
    • Movements will reduce pressure from discs,
    • Spinal discs and joints do not get their nourishment unless there is movement in spine,
    • A constant position for long time will cause muscle stiffness and spasm causing back pain.
  • Drive in rotations if you have more than one person in car who can drive.
  • Have good thigh and foot support while sitting in car.
  • Listen to music. Passengers can read, watch something or play a game on electronic devices also. 
  • Do regular exercises if you have to drive daily to keep your back muscles strong.

Already suffering from backpain:

All the tips given above are useful. In addition do followings-

  • Use heat/ cold packs locally to reduce pain while taking breaks. Heating seats are also useful.
  • Application of pain-killer ointment is useful,
  • Can use a lumbar or cervical belt to support spine and avoid jerks getting transmitted to painful areas,
  • Use a coccygeal pillow for tail-bone pain,
  • Use pain medications and muscle relaxants if pain is severe,
  • Can use a preventive pain-killer before starting the journey.

Rule of thumb is to listen to your body. Your body will let you know if it is in any kind of painful situation. So, when you get a signal from the body that your back is hurting, do something about it.