With the arrival of warmer weather and social distancing guidelines easing around the country, many of us are starting to itch for more travel. But for anyone with a history of back pain, the thought of an extended car ride can be worrisome. Can you really tolerate hours on the road?
Sitting in a car may not seem strenuous, but it can be difficult on your spine. Keep reading for some simple ways to minimize back pain while driving.
Your car seat has adjustments for a reason! Set up your seat so you’re comfortable, and consider reclining your seat slightly to minimize slouching. Also, try adding a lumbar pillow to support the natural curve in your spine – you can even use a rolled-up towel.
If driving, shift your seat close enough to the steering wheel that your shoulders can be relaxed with your elbows and knees slightly bent.
Even if you use perfect body mechanics when lifting your luggage, your bags still may pose a problem if they’re too heavy. Only bring what you really need, and if a bag is still too heavy, get someone to help you lift it.
If you’re not traveling solo, take turns driving with your companions. That way you’re not constantly doing the work (which includes a surprising number of movements that can strain the spine – turning around, shifting gears, lifting your feet, etc.).
Enjoy your journey as well as your destination by taking a short rest break at least once every three hours. Lightly stretch, take a brisk walk, drink some water –- anything to increase circulation and relax stiff muscles. If you schedule these breaks into your itinerary you won’t feel rushed.
If it’s safe to do so, use cruise control – it’s a great way to ease the strain on your lower back and hips, since you won’t have to constantly lift and move your legs.
Sitting on a wallet, cell phone, or other personal item can throw off pelvic alignment and lead to pain and tension in the spine. Store your small personal belongings elsewhere, like the glove compartment or center console.
Look at Google Maps to see if any of your travel routes are under construction. Try to avoid routes that include resurfacing projects or gravel roads, as rough roads can aggravate back pain.
Is your back pain interfering with your vacation plans? Contact Center for Pain Management in Indianapolis to schedule an appointment: (317) 706-7246.