It is that time of year again. People are packing up their cars to go on road trips. This year gas prices are expected to be lower than last summer, and according to a research survey conducted by AAA, this may translate into more family vacations. According to the report, driving will account for about 53% of the modes of transportation for family vacations this year.
If you suffer from back pain, that may not sound fun. However, there are some ways to help ease back pain caused by driving. There are some ergonomic tips to follow that will help prevent and relieve driving-related back issues.
What Does Ergonomic Mean?
Merriam-Webster defines ergonomic as an “applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.” With regard to driving, this means there are ways for you to sit, certain positions to put your seats, and tools that you can use to help alleviate your back pain.
Ergonomics of Driving
Sitting for long periods of time, in general, can hurt your back and neck, but in a car, the added effect of the movements and vibrations can increase your chances of pain or injury.
Tips to Make Your Road Trip More Ergonomic & Comfortable:
- Seat Height: Should maximize your vision of the road.
- Leg Position: Should be able to operate the accelerator, clutch, and break comfortably.
- Seat Length: Should be long enough to support thighs.
- Back Rest: Should support the length of the back and shoulders should rest slightly behind the hips.
- Lumbar Support: Should not create pressure points or gaps between the spine and car seat. You can use a towel or other ergonomic tool for support as well.
- Steering Wheel: Should not touch your legs. You should be able to reach all controls and maintain a relaxed position comfortably. If you were to hold your arms straight out in front of you, above the steering wheel, your wrists should sit on top. While driving, keep your hands at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock.
- Head Rest: Should be positioned centrally to keep the neck in a neutral position.
- Mirror: Should ensure maximum vision.
Please note that seat adjustments should be made when the car is at a complete stop and in park. You may also find the correct position to be uncomfortable at first. Over time, it should feel more natural and comfortable. If you find these positions cause too much discomfort or even pain, you may need to make some slight adjustments. Yourmechanic.com also has some helpful information that aligns with ergonomic instructions, and it includes some relevant illustrations.
Other Ways to Ease Back Pain
When you feel good and you’re well-nourished it is easier to maintain good posture, so it is important to get enough sleep, eat well, stay alert with cool, fresh air and uplifting music throughout your drive. Here are some other things to keep in mind during your trip:
- Take frequent rests from driving. Plan interesting stops along the way and make use of the rest stops.
- During breaks, take at least 15 minutes to do light stretching exercises and walk.
- Pay attention to your posture frequently and adjust as necessary.
- Do not sit on your wallet or keep any other bulky items in your back pockets.
- Be careful packing and unpacking your car.
- If possible, alternate drivers.
- Have an ice/cold pack on hand, especially if you are prone to neck and back pain.
Total Chiropractic Care Can Help
When you get back from your road trip, even after following all these tips, you may still be experiencing some discomfort or pain. Total Chiropractic and Wellness can help. Contact us today.