3 Tips To Alleviate Back Pain While Driving

When you spend a lot of time behind the wheel, whether you are going on a long trip or your job requires you to drive around town all day, it can be a real pain – in the back. Many car seats may be comfortable for short jaunts, but they are not built to support the back on the long hauls. However, there are some things that you can do to offset a non-back friendly seat design and alleviate, or even prevent, back pain while driving.

Create a Comfortable Space

Before you settle in behind the wheel, you want to make sure that you are comfortable. Keeping things like your wallet and cellphone in your pocket may be convenient when you are moving about, but can be an irritant when you are basically sitting on them mile after mile. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Any type of discomfort can put stress on your body so even if it is not necessarily pain related, it can exacerbate pain as your body’s sensitivity heightens in response to the stress.

Adjust your seat so that you are comfortable, but sitting fairly upright. If you recline, it could put stress on your neck and upper back, causing pain. Your seat should also be high enough so that you can place your feet flat on the floor – at least for a while (you can do this while driving if you have cruise control). There should be a slight bend in your elbows as you reach for the steering wheel and you should not have to stretch to reach the pedals. Make sure that your mirrors are adjusted so that you don’t have to bend or crane your neck to get good visibility.

Put Together a Healthy Back Kit

Bring along some things to help keep your back comfortable and pain free – even if you’ve never experienced back pain while driving. There is always a first time. Some of the items you might want to bring along include:

  • A towel that you can roll up and place behind the small of your back
  • A lumbar support pillow
  • A cold or hot pack
  • Something for pain relief
  • A cushion for your car seat to absorb the vibration
  • Water (so you can stay hydrated)
  • Essential Oil like lavender or peppermint (put a few drops in a carrier oil and apply to the sore areas)

Take Breaks and Move a Little

Driving straight through without any breaks is never a good idea. In fact, it can make you more tired, stiff and sore – and less alert on the road. Instead, take breaks to get out of the car, walk around, and stretch. When you move, you stimulate your circulation which brings oxygen and vital nutrients to your muscles. You’ll feel better, be more alert, and will be less likely to experience back pain.

Stopping every hour or so will help considerably with alleviating back pain. It doesn’t have to be a big production, just walk around for a few minutes, stretch your neck, shoulders, and back, then get back on the road. In between stops you can move your ankles up and down or rotate them to increase circulation to the lower leg. You should also adjust your position or your seat about every 20 minutes. Even these slight movements can help keep the blood flowing which will prevent your muscles from getting stiff and sore.

Regular chiropractic care as well as a consistent exercise routine can help prevent back pain in many situations, including while driving. Your chiropractor can also recommend some back strengthening exercises and stretches that will help make your spine even healthier.

Give our clinic a call at (780)455-2112 to schedule your assessment today! Visit to learn more about our clinic and doctors!

Healthy and Smart Driving Posture


Driving with good posture will help you avoid back painDriving with good posture will help you avoid back pain. This is especially true when you drive for a long distance, but you should get in the habit of good posture even on short trips. Here are posture tips specific to driving.


Relax Your Shoulders

Many people tense their shoulders while driving. This causes neck pain, shoulder aches and other, similar problems. Take a moment when driving to observe your body position and note whether or not you are scrunching your shoulders or leaning forward. Be conscious of letting your shoulders relax naturally every time you observe that you are tensing up.


Watch Your Grip

Gripping the steering wheel the whole time you are driving does not make you a safer driver and puts you at risk for aching muscles, particularly in the arms and wrists. Let your hands remain relaxed while holding the steering wheel. The only time a tighter grip is required is when you are making turns.


Adjust Seating and Steering

Good driving posture does not mean simply sitting up straight. In fact, a slight incline to the seat is better because it distributes your weight more evenly, putting less pressure on your spine. Adjust your seat so that you are just slightly inclined backward and that your knees are slightly lower than your hips. Your feet should reach all pedals easily without effort. In addition, your steering wheel should be angled and close enough that you do not have to hyper-extend your arms to reach it as this creates tension in the shoulders.


Avoid Slouching

While it is good to relax and remain comfortable while driving, slouching is not the answer. It might feel comfortable in the beginning, but slouching places stress on your muscles and bones, especially the lower back and sides. If you are slouching on longer drives, soon you will find you will need to change positions frequently to avoid pain. Look at the angle of your body. You should be only slightly reclined with your knees slightly lower than hip level rather than drawn up and your shoulders should be relaxed and even. Placing one arm on the window ledge tends to put your whole body slightly off center and should be avoided.


Years of driving with poor posture eventually takes a toll, but it is never too late to correct your posture. If your back pain keeps you from enjoying your drives or from living life to the fullest, book an appointment today at Oliver Chiropractic Wellness Clinic by calling [sc:tel-ocwc].