Many individuals experience the problem of lower back pain during driving. According to a survey around 50% Americans suffer from lower back pain while sitting in the car. This can be due to a variety of reasons and many of us are not aware of the common rules for sitting in a car.
The Connection Between Driving And Back Pain
There are three main factors which can cause back pain while driving:
1. Vibrations From The Steering:
Scientists have discovered that the lower lumbar spine resonates at a frequency of 4 to 5 hertz naturally and this can be disturbed during driving. This leads to compression from higher up in the spine and leads to lower back pain. Although you can’t modify the vibrating frequency of the engine but you can reduce* the damage it causes by driving for shorter intervals of time.
2. Posture During Sitting:
Posture during driving can be modified by a number of factors. When driving various forces like acceleration, deceleration and lateral forces are acting on the body. Moreover the abdominal muscles can’t support* the posture of the spine during activities like turning the steering wheel resulting in torsional stresses. A study showed that 50% individuals adopt a slouched back or hunched back position over the steering wheel while another 25% tilted their heads or shifted in the seats while looking in the rear view mirror.
3. The Length Of Time Spent In The Driving Seat:
The length of time spent travelling will affect the intensity of posture and vibrations acting on your body.
Tips For Sitting In A Car Without Back Pain
Here are a few tips which will help you sit comfortably in the car without lower back pain:
- The Seat
Make sure that your bottom is positioned all the way where the back of the seat meets the base. This maintains the natural curvature of the spine and reduces* stress on the spinal ligaments. If there is a lumbar roll on the seat, roll it all the way out
- Length of Seat Base and Height of Back
Your seat base should never touch the back of your knees and the back of the base should be tilted and should be at a lower level than the front. This ensures that you press the pedals without changing the posture of your back
- Back Rest
Rest comfortably in your seat and incline the seat at a 10-15 degrees angle to the vertical. If the back rest is not in the right position, it will lead to neck pain lower back pain. If you still feel uncomfortable, put a folded towel between the shoulder blades in the mid spine region
The headrest prevents impact during accidents and helps stabilize the posture of our spine. Your headrest should be at the same level as the bony part of the back of your head and at a distance of approximately one inch from the head. This allows the ligament and joints of your neck to support* the head in a better* way
- Distance Between The Seat and The Pedal
This distance is important because if the pedals are too far away they may cause you to overstretch your legs. Your legs should neither be too straight nor too bend when you are pressing down on the clutch or the throttle. The ideal position of the knees should be 45 degrees
- The Mirrors
All mirrors of your car should be adjusted after you have positioned the seat as previously mentioned. This will allow you to look in the mirrors without having to move your neck, head or body too much. If you are still feeling uncomfortable, it is either because you have not adjusted the mirrors properly or your body is too close to the steering wheel
- Take Frequent Breaks
You may have noticed that your body feels too tired after the end of a long distance journey. After a while, your lower back may start hurting. Taking a break on the road is advised not only to prevent you from sleeping behind the wheel; it will allow you to stretch and rest. This should be an hour long break as recommended. While you rest, adjust your seating position as well
- Adjust Seat at Intervals
Although it may sound quite a hassle in theory but sitting in the same position for prolonged periods of time can put a lot of stress on your back. So you should try and readjust your seat every thirty minutes. This allows the pressure that is acting on the spine to change regularly and will reduce* incidence of back pain
- Position of The Steering While Driving
Your steering wheel should be positioned in a manner that it allows your arms and shoulders to be at an angle below ninety degrees to avoid extra pressure on the spine