9 Things you can do to help your back.
Anyone who spends a lot of time in a vehicle is likely to experience the aches and pains that come from prolonged sitting. Long-distance drivers or those that spend a lot of time driving experience pain more often as it is more difficult to shift body positions while driving.
Discomfort and lower back pain are frequent complaints reported by drivers. These injuries also include foot cramps, low back pain, stiff neck, and sore shoulders from poor posture, stress, tension, and staying in one posture for an extended period.
Poor posture can result from personal driving habits, or from an improperly adjusted or fitted seat. The shape of the vehicle seat may put pressure on selected parts of the legs, back and buttocks. This contact can lead to pain or discomfort at pressure points and may affect blood flow to the legs and feet. Low-frequency whole-body vibration in larger vehicles such as trucks or buses can also contribute to effects on the lower back.
Some tips for preventing back pain from sitting for long periods include:
- Empty your back pockets before you drive so your back isn’t tilted to one side.
- Don’t slump in your seat.
- Use the seat’s lumbar support – adjust it so that the backrest is in contact along the full length of your back. If necessary, use lumbar support, cushion, or rolled towel to support your lower back.
- Adjust your seat and steering wheel so you can press the pedals without moving your lower back away from the back of the seat, and so your arms are at a comfortable angle and not overstretched.
- Adjust your seat so that your knees are at the same height or slightly lower than your hips when driving.
- Adjust your mirrors after you have adjusted your seat to avoid twisting and stretching.
- Change the seat position a few degrees every 20 or 30 minutes.
- Take a break – get out of the vehicle to stand, stretch, and walk to help circulate the blood in your legs and give a much-needed rest to the muscles needed to sit. Taking five minutes every hour will make a big difference.
- Stay fit – maintaining strong abdominal muscles will support your back and reduce the likelihood of back pain.
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