Yes, your driving posture can cause back pain if you:
- Sit hunched over the wheel
- Slouch to the side (e.g., leaning one elbow on the window)
- Have not properly adjusted the seat
- Spend a lot of time driving without sufficient breaks to stretch and walk around
What Is Proper Driving Posture?
The Cleveland Clinic offers tips on how to improve your posture while sitting and driving. These include:
- Sitting up straight and putting even pressure on both hips (you should only lean to the side when checking your mirrors or back window)
- Keeping your knees at roughly the same height (or higher) than your hips
- Keeping your shoulders back and your buttocks touching the back of the seat
- Using pillows or towels to ensure your neck and lower back remain in a natural position
Failure to maintain a good driving posture can cause pain in the lower back, neck, or shoulders. You could even weaken the back enough to put you at greater risk of suffering or exacerbating a back injury, such as a muscle sprain or strain.
Even if your posture is very good, maintaining that position for an extended period can still damage your back. As discussed below, taking breaks to stand up and move around is crucial to maintaining good back health.
Your Seat Affects Your Driving Posture
If your driver’s seat is uncomfortable or if you have not adjusted it for your body type, your seat can end up contributing to lower back pain while driving. The next time you get behind the wheel, take stock of how you feel. Consider the following:
- Can you place your feet flat on the floor and reach the pedals while remaining in a comfortable, upright position?
- Can you adjust the headrest so that it comfortably supports your head and neck?
- Can you see out the windows and use the mirrors without having to twist or strain excessively?
- Can you do everything you need to do (steer the car, work the pedals, etc.) while sitting up straight?
Answering “no” to any of these questions could indicate that your driver’s seat doesn’t promote good driving posture for someone of your size or body type.
Sometimes the solution to these problems is as simple as adjusting the chair or the headrest. Unfortunately, finding a car seat that fits your body type can be very difficult if you are not “average-sized.” Short of buying a new car, you could consider buying a product, like a seat cushion, designed to help people like you drive more safely and comfortably.
Take Breaks While Driving to Avoid Back Pain
According to Harvard Health Publishing, sitting for excessive periods puts a great deal of pressure on your spine. This can lead to general back pain and specific injuries, such as a herniated disc.
People who spend a lot of time behind the wheel, such as truck drivers, are therefore at an increased risk of driving-related back pain. You can reduce both the pain and the risk of developing pain by taking breaks as frequently as possible.
During your driving breaks, you should:
- Stretch: After sitting in a car for hours, stretching feels wonderful. You can ask your healthcare provider for advice on which stretches will help you undo the damage of excessive sitting—and which stretches you should avoid.
- Walk around: Movement is a great antidote to back pain. Try to find a rest stop where there is space for you to take a stroll before you continue your journey.
- Lie down: If you stop somewhere overnight, make sure to lie down in a comfortable position. Lying down, as Harvard states, is the position that puts the least amount of stress on your spine.
The frequency and lengths of driving breaks you should take vary from person to person. If you are a professional driver, there may be industry regulations you are legally required to follow. Talk to your doctor about what a good driving schedule may look like for you.
Treating Back Pain Caused by Driving Posture
If you already have lower back pain from driving, it’s not too late to seek treatment, stop the pain, and adopt healthier habits moving forward.
Chiropractors specialize in treating musculoskeletal issues, including joint and back pain caused by poor driving posture. They can offer:
- Chiropractic adjustments that realign your spine and reduce pain
- Massage therapy that alleviates muscle tension
- Instruction in movements you can do either in the office or at home, such as pool exercises or stretches, to undo and prevent back pain
Your driving posture can cause back pain, but there are plenty of actions you can take to mitigate or even eliminate that pain. A chiropractor can diagnose the specific cause of your symptoms and build a treatment regimen to eliminate your problem.
Why Visit a Chiropractor for Back Pain?
Chiropractic care is among the least invasive and most comprehensive treatment options for back pain. This is because it:
- Doesn’t involve taking medications or resorting to drastic measures like surgery
- Can alleviate the symptoms you already experience
- Teaches you how to improve your posture and habits in a way that prevents future pain and injuries
- Encompasses a wide range of customizable treatment options you can use to address many types and levels of back pain
First, your chiropractor will work to address your most immediate concern (in this case, back pain caused by poor driving posture). Once you feel better, they can move on to maintaining your improved health and showing you how to prevent a relapse.
Learn How to Stop Driving-Related Back Pain
At Specific Care Chiropractic, we don’t just relieve our patients’ pain. We help them make healthy lifestyle choices that can prevent them from experiencing further pain down the road. Your driving posture can cause back pain, so if you want to learn better driving behaviors, call us at (239) 369-9109 and book an appointment today.