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Driving And Back Pain

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If you drive fairly long distances to and from work everyday (driving for over half an hour) or your job specifically involves long hours of driving, you may have experienced back pain; and you wouldn’t be alone. Approximately 30-60% of drivers report back pain that is caused or made worse by driving. This is not uncommon as driving exposes the body to many different forces including acceleration, deceleration and most notably vibration. Larger heavy goods vehicle drivers are exposed to a lot of vibration and consequently this group of people report more back pain. Driving also involves the use of your feet to control the car’s pedals which means they are not used to help stabilise and support your lower body as they normally would when sitting. A combination of these factors as well as the inadequate design of some vehicle seats can cause back problems for some

Top Tips

  • Know your limit by testing how long you can drive for before your pain begins. Knowing how long will allow you to be able to take regular breaks
    before the pain begins
  • Take regular breaks to move around and do back stretches. Also stretch before you begin a journey, any time it is possible and safe to do so during your journey and after the journey
  • Being comfortably seated is very important when driving. Ensure your seat is adjusted so it is comfortable for you and if your vehicle does not have lumbar support seating, use a lumbar support cushion to support your back.
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  • Try to maintain good driving posture; this is easier to do if you take regular breaks
  • If possible, on long journeys try to share the driving with another person. Being a passenger will allow you to move around more, alleviating the stress on your back
  • Take care when getting in and out of your vehicle; do not twist your back but rather rotate your whole body
  • Take care when loading and unloading items from your vehicle; carry smaller loads close to your body and remember to bend your knees when lifting
  • If driving is part of your job talk to your employer or HR department about your back pain, they may be able to come up with ways to help you e.g. changes to your vehicle or fewer driving hours
  • Exercise as it helps keep your back strong and healthy decreasing the risk of developing back pain!

Useful Exercises

Exercise is a great way to prevent and manage back pain. Here are some useful exercises you can try. If you have an existing back condition you may want to skip some exercises such as the forward bend and do only those that do not exacerbate your pain.

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