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Back Pain Driving You Insane?

Dr. Arnan Sisson

July 21, 2018

Excuse my bad pun, but it’s a very frequent occurrence for me to have a new client come through the doors here at Sisson & Associates and their back pain while driving is crippling. It may be that their going on a long weekend beach trip to Nags head or maybe just a short commute to the office. Either or the story plays out the same, while driving their frustrated because they can’t get comfortable while behind the wheel or when they finally hit the beach or the office they just can concentrate on their work or family/friends because of the effects from the driving.

The statistics out there support this, up to 30-60% of drivers will experience back pain. So today we’re going to go over some strategies to help with these very common problems people face every day.

The first tip would be to get comfortable and make adjustments. Very often we have a spouse or maybe even kid that will borrow the vehicle. Not just that but our mirrors, seats, etc. are adjusted. So, we just hop in the car not thinking about it and go for a driving without readjusting.

This can lead to little nagging aches in the neck or back, and over the period of a 20 minute or longer trip it can aggravate the joints of the spine. So before getting on the road adjust the seat to fit you properly and adjust the mirrors properly.

I tell my personal clients that the sidemirrors should be seen with just moving the eyes. If you have to turn the entire head, then it’s not positioned correctly. This can lead to repetitive movements of the neck that lead to aches/pain.

A good strategy is to sit up straight in your car seat and position the mirror. And if you start slouching during the driving you’ll notice you won’t see your mirror as well. It’s a great natural way to maintain good posture in the back.

The second tip to improve your drive would be to adjust your seat to about 100 degrees back. This equates to just a slight recline while driving. This is important because it positions the lower back in a much more natural position. Not just that, but it avoids a common problem of excessive recline in the car.

I have many clients that come in with excruciating neck pain that’s so bad they can’t even turn the head if they wanted to while driving. This can be tightly linked to driving with a very large recline in the car. This produces a position where the neck lacks a good bit of support during long drives and neck issues can be the result.

The third tip would be to take regular breaks. This means for long car trips to take at a minimum of one pit stop while driving each hour. During this time, you want to go for a minute or two walk, do some shoulder rolls, and bend backwards a few times. This works wonders! It moves the body in opposite positions from the drive and will make you feel much better once you get to the office or even vacation hot spot.

My last tip would be to simply enjoy cruise control. If you’re on a long stretch of road it’s definitely worth using. It will take the strain off the hamstrings and calf’s. Along with that you can place your feet flat on the ground which will provide slightly more support for the spine.

So next time your taking a long vacation or even a short ride to Walmart try a few of these strategies. Their very easy to use and will allow you to stay active and avoid the pain pills that come along with back pain.

That’s it for today, remember movement is medicine!

P.S. I know back pain can be a scary thing, and you may think you have to be confined to laying on the couch and maybe even ultimately fusion surgeries to the back. But luckily I can tell you from experience this doesn’t have to be the case. If you’d like some more help, click here to download my free check list on 13 steps to help with back pain(not much of any exercise required!).