A drivers guide to dealing with back pain
Sitting for long periods of time and the car seat you sit in can contribute greatly to back issues. See the following as your pain free travel tips which can be adapted whatever mode of transport you are using. Our top tips are for reducing the associated pain and even reversing the symptoms for individuals dealing with a history of back pain
Get comfortable early on!
Even better get comfortable immediately. Why? Well as you may well have experienced the smallest irritant in the beginning can turn into something far bigger some hours later. There are different qualities of seat out there- in the car, on the train or on the plane. Sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got so we suggest using a rolled up towel placed between your lower back and the seat for some extra support. If you have the money you could always buy a specialised cushion designed to do the same thing- either one can make the difference between suffering from back pain or not.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Always aim to site up straight and ideally sit with your knees slightly higher than your hips. To take pressure off of your neck try the occasional chin tuck to get stretch the neck area. Getting comfortable is a lovely feeling but don’t sit in the same position for too long even though you may want to. Instead adjust your seat and change your position every 15, 20 or 30 minutes at the most.
Empty your pockets please.
Believe it or not a wallet, phone or keys in your back pocket can all cause your spine all sorts of bother as you try to assume a comfortable position with these objects between you and your seat. If you got a glove box then use it! Do your spine from top to bottom a big favour and bring that steering wheel closer, taking lots of stress off of the neck, shoulders, mid and lower back as well as your wrists.
Ice is nice.
As a regular back pain sufferer you may well appreciate packing an instant ice pack. Applying ice to the area of pain for 20 minutes in better than popping pills. Ice offers immediate relief and is a good way to curtail the pain as most back pain is accompanied by some swelling. Icing can reduce swelling and dull the nerve impulses by slowing the down. A word of advice- never ice directly onto an area- wrap in a damp tea towel or something similar.
Ice is nice but heat could be better!
Try what we call contrast bathing- basically a few minute cold followed a few minutes of heat. It can work wonders for back pain in chronic cases. As with anything that involves long journeys you need to prepare. Try these options: before you leave fill a bottle with water that can be placed on your back. Refill with hot water when you stop or take a bathroom break. Alternatively a heat pad will do the trick. If you are lucky enough to have heated seats, use them!
You may well have been told that exercise is good for a bad back. Any active back exercise can contribute to keeping all the elements of the back healthy. When you stop off or get up from your seat try to do at least one of the following.
Stretch your hamstrings- get some inspiration here
Walk around a while to increase blood flow and reduce the stiffness associated with sitting in one place for a while followed by some gentle stretching of the back area using the exercises below as inspiration.
The back seat is always an option.
If your back pain is unbearable and the back seat is available the use it. Being able to lay flat for a while may well help even if it only offers comfort for a while. We say a while because as we mentioned before you should change your position every so often.
Take a nap.
A simple option but very effective all the same. But only do it if you aren’t driving 🙂
Taking the right kind of medicine.
If you are taking pain medication then its not advisable to drive. Instead go for over the counter pain relief. Opt for NSAIDS or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which are often very effective in limiting inflammation and as a result reducing pain.