Here in the Puget Sound, many of us commute to work by car—as evident in the amount of traffic congestion on our roadways. According to CNBC, the average commuter spends 42 hours a year stuck in traffic. Although the modern car design has come a long way the past 20 years, it has yet to prevent back problems from happening.
Back problems have even become a common side effect when commuting in a big city. Approximately 30-60% of drivers report their back pain is to be caused from driving. Many people will ignore the pain, or solve the issue with over-the-counter or prescription pain medication. However, if not properly treated, your back problems could advance into a severe concern.
At Petett Chiropractic, we are here to pass on helpful tips on how to best support your back when traveling in the car.
What Is Causing My Back Pain?
There are several causes to your back pain being due to driving. Unlike sitting in a padded chair, when your vehicle is moving, your body is subject to the forces around you. Your spine is exposed to whole-body vibrations, and the lateral swaying of the car.
Driving particularly for long periods of time can place extra strain on your vertebrae and discs. When you drive, your feet are constantly moving therefore they can’t support or stabilize your lower back as they normally would when you are sitting in a chair. If your car has cruise control, use it – if it’s safe to do so. This will allow you to put both of your feet on the floor and distribute your weight more evenly.
Back pains are commonly accompanied by inflammation. If needed, apply a cold or heat pack to decrease and numb the sore tissues. If your car has heated seats, allow them to keep your muscles warm during the drive.
Ideal Seat Design to Prevent Back Pain
Here are a few tips for optimal seat posture and position while riding in a car:
- Adjust your seat: Your seat should be positioned to support your thighs as much as possible. It should be close and high enough so that your legs and feet aren’t reaching for the pedals. We recommend angling your seat at 100 degrees from the horizontal position.
- Alter your steering wheel grip: Your hands should be at nine and three o’clock. This allows you to rest your elbows on the armrests, which can help ease pain.
- Correct your posture: Since many car seats are designed to tip back, many drivers have a tendency to slump forward. This position can take a toll on your back pain and make it painful for you. Re-adjust your posture and slowly get away from your poor sitting habits.
- Considering driving an automatic car: Automatic cars are less strenuous on our back since you are relieved of continual clutch use required for manual cars.
Most cars do not have a lumbar support built into the car seats. However, it can be as simple as a rolled up towel or a cushion designed for support. Place the support at the small of the back, just at belt level. This will help keep a healthy curve in your lower back and decrease the pressure on your disks.
Your Renton & Seattle Chiropractic Clinic
If you are having uncomfortable back pain due to sitting in a car, come into your local Seattle chiropractic clinic. An adjustment will help in treating and preventing pain that often comes with spending long periods of time in a vehicle. Give Petett Chiropractic a call today at (425) 277-2225 to set up an appointment.
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