How to reduce back pain when driving

As avid readers of the latest back care news, we got in touch with the British Chiropractic Association to help us with a question that we often get asked – How can I set up my car to reduce back pain? Tim Hutchful, BCA Chiropractor sheds some light on how we can achieve better postures when driving to reduce the aches and pains.

As the days continue to get colder, many more people may be looking to their cars as the main form of transport to escape the winter weather. However, whether you’re escaping the chilly morning commute, or driving around the country for work, it’s important you’re aware of your posture.

According to consumer research by the British Chiropractic Association, 25% of people felt that driving was one of the factors affecting their posture, and in turn, this could lead to back or neck pain.

To help keep back pain at bay, and make sure you’re sitting up straight the BCA has a number of top tips.

Sit up straight

If you share a car, make sure you check it is set up to suit you. For example, your mirrors should be set so that you can see all around the car with minimal head movement. Most people who share a car don’t bother making the necessary adjustments each time they drive, however failing to do so can cause your body unnecessary strain on a regular basis. Even if you don’t share a car, your ideal driving position may change, so make sure you continue to check your set up regularly.

When you’re travelling for long periods or long distances, you may be tempted to slouch in your seat. For the ideal driving position, your shoulder blades should rest comfortably on the backrest and you should sit all the way back in your seat. Relaxing back into your seat reduces the pressure on your spine. Adjust your seatbelt too so it lies across the top of your shoulder. If it digs into your neck or falls down your arm, the seatbelt height will need adjusting.

Best foot forward

Make sure your feet fall naturally onto the pedals and you can press the pedals onto the floor by moving your ankle. Wearing heels or thick-soled shoes requires you to overextend your ankle to push down on the pedals. This could create tension in your leg and impair blood flow throughout your journey. Additionally, if the steering wheel is too far away, tension can build up in your shoulders and upper back. Modify your steering wheel position so that your hands fall on it naturally with a slight bend of the arms.

Take a break

Where possible you should avoid driving without breaks. On long journeys, it’s important that you try to take regular breaks and change position every two hours at the least; taking a walk and moving your arms if you can!

However, if you have no choice but to be stuck behind the wheel, or when you are sat in traffic, why not try some exercises in the car? Exercises such as buttock clenches, side bends, shoulder shrugs, circling your shoulders and seat braces (pushing against the steering wheel with your hands and pushing your back into the seat) are perfect ways to fight poor posture when you’re stuck in the car.

If you can this winter, try to ditch the car and walk. However, if that’s just not possible, then head over to the BCA website for more information on how to look after your posture.

If you have any questions regarding problems that you are experiencing with your driving position please get in touch below or take a look at the advice for everyday living over on the BCA website.

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