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Tips to Reduce Back Pain When Driving

Back pain is the single biggest cause of disability in the UK, according to the NHS. One of the largest contributors to back pain is driving. Between 30-60% of motorists report back pain that is either caused or exacerbated by driving. There are many ways to relieve back pain from driving. Read this article to find out why driving causes back pain and how to find relief.

man driving car close up of steering wheel

Why does driving cause back pain?

The human body was not designed for long periods of immobility. As we remain stationary, our muscles tense up, leading to soreness or injury. 

In contrast to just sitting in a chair, driving exposes the body to various forces, such as acceleration, deceleration and vibration. These forces cause sharp jolts of movement, which can have a long-term effect on back health.

An inadequate seat or sitting position may also contribute to back pain.

How to alleviate back pain from driving

  • Ensure your seat is adjusted to the correct position. Your entire body should feel comfortable and your head should be aligned with the headrest. Many people find a 100-degree angle to be ideal. Find the angle that’s right for you, ensuring you’re not leaning back too far.
  • Use a lumbar support cushion to support your back if your vehicle does not have lumbar support.
  • Adjust your mirrors so that you don’t need to twist to see them.
  • Share driving responsibilities where possible. It is easier to adjust your position when you are in the passenger seat.
  • Try to maintain a good driving posture. Keep an erect back and don’t strain your neck.
  • Take care when loading/unloading items.
  • Stretch before you begin a journey and/or take breaks occasionally when driving to perform some stretches.

Which stretches help with back pain?

The following stretches can alleviate back pain. Only ever attempt to stretch when it is safe to do so. We recommend stopping your vehicle completely before stretching.

Before the journey:

Cat/cow

Get onto all fours with your knees on the ground and your palms flat. Inhale and tilt your pelvis back so that your spine naturally rounds, then exhale and tuck your tailbone so that your spine curves inwards. Return to a neutral spine after your final exhale.

Supine twist

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Keep your back flat but rotate your hips to one side, lowering your legs to the floor until you feel a stretch. Hold for 15 seconds and then return to the centre and repeat on the other side.

During the journey (not while driving):

Side bends

Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart. Slowly bend your waist to the side, letting your hands fall towards the ground. Pause and slowly return to the centre before doing the same on the opposite side.

Side rotation

Slowly turn your neck from one side to the other. Inhale and exhale deeply as you do so.

How else can I promote a healthy back while driving?

Take your vehicle in for a service to establish whether there are any hidden issues that might be exacerbating your pain. There may be structural issues or seat imbalances that can be identified and fixed by professionals.

Oaks Services is committed to ensuring your safety. We offer a full MOT testing service to customers in Weybridge, Woking, Addlestone, Staines and the wider Surrey area. Our experienced team will identify any issues and recommend the services required to fix them. We can service any aspect of your vehicle — from clutches, exhausts and everything in between. Get in contact today to find out more.