Tips and Tools: Preventing Back Injuries on the Road
Do you know why sitting for long periods of time makes your back ache? Sitting in one position for even an hour strains your spine and impairs circulation to your back. Sometime your muscles knot or cramp, and might even spasm as less blood and oxygen reaches your back muscles. Driving puts added strain on your back. Read on for simple tips on your daily commute:
- Keep your lower back (the lumbar) supported with a small cushion. Some car seats have adjustable lumbar supports. If your seat has them, take advantage.
- Keep your knees aligned with your hips and avoid reaching toward the steering wheel. Adjust your seat so that you're sitting comfortably close to the steering wheel, but at a safe distance for airbags.
- You're too far from the steering wheel if your feet are reaching toward the gas and break pedals.
- Relieve tension in your back by shifting your weight and using your arm rests whenever possible.
- If you're at a stoplight, relieve tension in your neck by relaxing against your headrest (make sure it's adjusted properly to support and protect your neck).
- If you're buying a new car, look for firm seats with lumbar support. Sit down at the driver's seat and test it for back comfort and support - avoid curved, soft seats.
- Unwind and relax! Don't let road rage put added stress on your back.
- While on extended driving trips, pull over and go for a brief walk if possible. Standing and moving will restore circulation to your back and neck muscles, and will help prevent muscle strain.