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(Advice) How To Protect Your Back On That Next Road Trip Over 1 Hour

Learn How to Reduce Stiffness, Pain, And Discomfort On Long Drives…

By: Dr. Arnan Sisson, PT


I was having a conversation with a patient of mine a few days ago. He came in with back pain that was so bad he had to take 8 steroid injections and was given two opinions to fuse his lower back at L2, L3, and L4.

During this time, he dreaded long trips to Richmond or Fredericksburg. Long story short  though, this fellow now has little to no back pain left, going to his grandchildren’s soccer games, and is just much more active and happier in his life. 

Being that he feels so great, his new goal is to maintain this lifestyle. So, he asked the question, “what can I do to make my back feel loose and pain free with really long drives? I’m talking about a big trip to Florida in the 2-3 months.”

I gave him a solid plan that I think will make him very happy on his vacation coming up. So, I figured, why not give this same bit of advice to my readers! So below are my top 3 tips to make your back feel loose and less painful during those hour trips to Richmond or the two day trips to Florida.

Have Backwards Stress

You may be asking, “Dr. Sisson why I’m I going to stress my back to avoid stress?” Stick with me here!

When you’re driving for  long periods of time, the back is 90% of the time curled or flexed. This low level stress adds up during the drive and leads to stiffness and pain. If you add in the opposite stress (bending backwards) before the drive and after the trip, you’ll have a balance of overall back stress. This is a great way to protect yourself. So simply stand up, bend backwards, and repeat this for a few minutes before and after your drive.

Make These Car Adjustments

Going off that rounding stress we spoke of earlier, adjusting the set up of your car seat can also take off some of the negative stress your body may experience during a long drive.

Some adjustments to limit the stress would be to first raise the car seat height. This is done automatically with a toggle switch or just with a few pillows under you. The next adjustment is to bring your steering wheel closer to you, so you’re not tempted to hunch over. 

And the last change would be to alter the angle the car seat to 110 degrees. Studies show that this is the best angle for back health while driving. Simply adjust the seat to a 90 degree angle and then move it back a hair. This will get you close enough to this ideal spot.

Enjoy Those Pitstops

One of the biggest reasons people come to my clinic with back pain after vacations is because they don’t take their pitstops. If you drive long enough, that rounding stress adds up. Taking a pit stop halfway through for short trips and every few hours with very long drives can be a life saver. 

During these pit stops, its smart to spend a few minutes walking around and doing some general stretches for a few minutes after that. If you invest the little bit of time needed to do this, you’ll feel much more energized and looser once you get to the destination.

There you have it, try those three tips out on your next drive, and I can promise you that every second invested in protecting your back will be well worth it based off how you feel afterwards.

If you’re like my patient earlier who was dealing with back injections, missing out on family get togethers, and just not enjoying a happy active life; then there’s no need to continue to miss out on life. 

Free 20 Minute Discovery Visit

Each week I offer two Discovery visits for folks dealing with those exact problems above. Feel free to give me a ring at (804) 493-3256 (accepting messages 24/7) or head over to https://www.montrossphysicaltherapy.com/Free-Discovery-Visit to grab your Discovery visit today. During the session we’ll work together to figure out the general cause of your back troubles and the top 2-3 strategies we can use to finally fix it!