Driving, whether for work or a fun family vacation, can be rough for someone with low back pain. Here are a few tips to helps make your next trip more comfortable:
1. Today's cars are short on head room. Be sure to adjust your seat so that you aren't leaning back with your legs straight in front of you. This position tilts the pelvis in a way that is sure to aggravate a back problem. Find a comfortable position that allows the seat bottom to support your thighs, and the seat back to hold you in an upright position. You shouldn't have to flex your neck forward to see properly.
2. Try not to slump in your seat. Slumping flattens the natural curves in your spine, putting extra pressure on the spine and especially the low back.
3. Adjust your mirrors and steering wheel to the most comfortable and natural positions. You shouldn't have to strain to look in the mirrors.
4. If back pain does begin, take a lot of breaks to get out and walk around a bit. This can help relax tight muscles.
5. Driving a manual car puts extra strain on the lumbar discs of the spine. The continual flexing of the glutes and leg muscles to work the clutch put a lot of pressure on the back. Try to rest your left leg in a natural position to relieve pressure between depressing the clutch.
6. Lumbar support is very important on long car trips. Even if your seats have a lumbar support function, take a rolled-up bath towel for some soft pressure against your back while driving.
7. Take some plastic zip-top bags to make an improvised ice pack. Ice cools the inflammation in the tissue around the discs in your spine.