Whether you drive the highways for a living or want to go on an extended road trip, long distance driving involves sitting in the same position for a long time. You’re putting yourself at risk of developing back problems or aggravating back problems you already have. While driving with back pain is unpleasant, the ramifications for future injury are enormous if you don’t take steps now to mitigate any back issues.
The vibration of your vehicle alone puts you at risk for neck, upper back and lower back problems. The more you drive, the more this risk increases. Driving with back pain makes short drives uncomfortable and long distance driving unbearable. The spine specialists at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) can find ways to relieve back pain related to driving with cutting-edge treatments, tips to reduce your discomfort and advice to prevent even more problems.
How Driving Can Be Hard on Your Back
Driving long distance involves not just sitting in one position, but also subjecting your body to movements and vibrations as the vehicle heads down the road. The vehicle speeds up, slows down and turns corners. You may hit potholes or speed bumps or have to come to a sudden stop. During your trip, your body is yanked up and down and side to side, sometimes forcefully.
As a driver, you use your feet for the accelerator, brake pedal and clutch, for a manual transmission vehicle. This means your feet aren’t free to support or stabilize your body. At the same time, vehicle seats don’t usually offer proper lumbar support, so driving with back pain is sometimes caused by the seat itself.
When Driving with Back Pain Is Unavoidable
You may not be able to control the number of hours you have to spend on the road or how much traffic you run into, but you can do some things while driving to decrease the risk of causing new back problems or making existing back problems worse, such as:
- Make your seat as comfortable as possible. Move your seat close to the steering wheel to prevent slouching. Adjust the back to a more upright position so you can sit properly.
- Use lumbar support. A small pillow or rolled-up towel behind your back helps provide support to your lumbar spine if your vehicle doesn’t have built-in adjustments.
- Take frequent breaks. Plan ahead to schedule frequent stops to avoid the stiffness that comes from sitting in one position too long. When you feel your neck and shoulders getting tense, it’s a good time to stop and stretch.
- Use cruise control. When it’s safe to use cruise control, take advantage of this feature. It allows you to put both feet on the floor to provide stability.
If you’re planning a trip or if you frequently drive long distances, speak to the experts at SSI about the best ways to protect your back. If you’re having back pain caused by long hours driving, the medical professionals as SSI can diagnose the cause of your pain and provide a treatment plan to make driving with back pain a thing of the past. Treatments include:
- Physical therapy
- Non-surgical options, such as nerve blocks
- Advanced surgical therapies for permanent relief such as stem cell therapy
- Non-narcotic pain relief