Driving is one of the most common aggravating factors for low back pain - but there are things you can typically do to make your back more comfortable on those long trips. Check out our top 3 tips.
If you have low back pain chances are that you have at times dreaded the thought of a long car trip.
If you are heading off on holidays or away for work then the last thing you want once you get to your destination is more back pain.
So, how can you go about reducing the chances of low back pain ruining your day after a long drive?
Here are our Top 3 ways to Beat Back Pain when Driving.
Love your Curve - love your spine
Your spine works best when the natural curves of the spine are maintained. It eases pressure on joints and discs and typically allows for better muscle function and even better breathing - w
hich is important if you are prone to being tired and fatigued.
The easiest way to promote this shape is by using a back support or a small rolled towel.
If you place this between the seat and your low back (in the space above your pelvis but below your ribs) you will find it helps produce a nice upright posture that even promotes a better head position.
You may even find yourself having to adjust your mirrors to accommodate the new sitting position.
But while being upright is good - we don't want to be over arched or extended. This can create back pain as well.
The other point to remember and keep in mind is my second way to beat back pain when driving…..
Move your Body.
You may well be stuck in the car - but you are not stuck to your seat. Our bodies thrive on movement and it can be a great pain reliever.
So even if you are using a back support - I want you to stop using it for periods of time and alter your sitting position. Change the angle of your seat slightly, move your seat back or forwards a little to change your leg and arm position - doing small changes such as these shift the load to different joints and tissues of the body.
Joints that are moved become better lubricated and are better able to ward off stiffness. Movement such as this creates an increase in blood flow and better oxygen delivery throughout the body.
In the case of your lumbar discs - a simple movement like rocking your pelvis gently forward and backwards may even give the discs a chance to rehydrate and retain a greater resistance to the stress of the rest of the day.
Then there is the obvious step of having a short rest stop. But don’t go and sit in the cafe. Walk for a bit, move through some larger ranges of motion, slowly extend your low back a little whilst standing and perhaps even lightly stretch your quads and hips. A couple of minutes is often enough to break the tension in the legs and low back and keep back pain at bay.
The third thing to try is not always thought of, and you may find it a little strange at first but try to……
Squeeze your Glutes.
Yep - thats right- clench your buttocks.
Now why would I want you to do that?
Now I do like a joke but this isn't just to make the other passengers in the car giggle - it is actually for a reason.
The glutes are strong powerful muscles that extend the hip and help support the pelvis and through their connections the low back as well.
But when seated they are inactive.
This leaves the pelvis less supported which for a sore low back can take its toll. It also changes how the position of the hip in its socket and allows for the hip flexors to tighten up.
Im sure you have felt the sensation of getting out of a car after a long trip and finding it hard to fully straighten up. You seem to be flexed forward at the hip - and it's not until you have walked for a while that things feel better.
Well that can be the hip flexors getting short and tight. Now in the confines of the car it is near impossible to stretch your hip flexors - but what you can do is squeeze your glutes.
Your glutes do the opposite action to your hip flexors - and so by activating them you decrease the tone and tension of the hip flexors. It also creates a nice bracing of the pelvis and if you alternate from clenching both glutes and then one at a time - you even get a nice little mobilisation of the joints of the pelvis and low back.
Now it may look like you are dancing in the car as you do this - so turn the tunes up and have a little sing along whilst doing it.
So try these tips the next time you are faced with a long trip.
Better backs make for happier people - and we like to make people happy.