7 Ways To Eliminate Back Pain While Driving

By Dr. Philip Cordova

March 20, 2024

If you have back pain while driving and have to spend a lot of time sitting in your car, you may have tried a lot of things for relief. Back pain can significantly affect your daily life, but there are effective strategies to alleviate discomfort and enhance comfort during your frequent and long drives.

At any given moment, approximately 65 million Americans are dealing with lower back pain. If you’re among them, it’s crucial to learn how to safeguard your back during routine activities, including driving. Here are some simple ways you can reduce and/or eliminate back pain while driving.

Maintain Proper Posture To Stop Back Pain While Driving

Making sure you have good seated posture is vital, whether you’re on extended drives or just commuting daily. Align your entire back against the seat by adjusting it to have as many neutral angles as possible. Your goal is to reach the steering wheel and pedals comfortably without straining your back.

Ensure clear visibility of the road, with your knees and hips at the same level when your feet are on the car floor or pedals. Keep your shoulders square and your spine straight. Keep your head against the headrest, particularly on long drives. This will help make sure you’re not pushing your head into forward head posture, straining your neck and upper back.

Adjust Your Steering Wheel & Pedals

Optimize your steering wheel position to avoid straining your arms and neck by pulling the steering wheel towards you to prevent stretching and straining your arms forward.

Aim to grip the steering wheel at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions, as holding it at 10 and 2 can exert undue pressure on your arms and back. You shouldn’t be straining to keep your arms in any position for extended periods.

Don’t Wear Your Hair In A Ponytail

This is often overlooked, but wearing your hair in a ponytail, especially on long drives, will lead to upper back pain while driving or headaches. Since you are unable to keep your head comfortably against the head rest, you will have no choice but to jut your head forward.

Every inch your head is forward is liking adding an extra 10 pounds to the weight of your head. The additional strain on the neck and upper back will negatively affect your posture and comfort.

Don’t Drive While Sitting On Your Wallet

You shouldn’t be sitting on any wallet in your back pocket anyway, but we often forget about this rule when we get in our car. The fastest way to have back pain while driving is to sit on your wallet. This will cause your hips to immediately become unbalanced and you will sit in an awkward posture to accommodate the unnatural positioning.

back pain while driving

Utilize Supportive Pillows or Posture Supports

Stop unnecessary pressure on low back discs by adding some support and reducing a slumped posture position. You can use a simple feather pillow wrapped around your lower back or other posture supports that keep the low back in its correct curve.

This helps maintain a neutral spine position, alleviating pressure on your discs and reducing back discomfort. Many cars have a “lumbar support” portion that is adjustable in your seat, but it’s often not enough for people that already have bad backs and are experiencing back pain while driving. The added support can make all the difference on a long drive.

Incorporate Stretching

Make use of time sitting at a red light to stretch your neck and back. Sit up straight and gently twist your upper body to each side, aiming to look through the back window.

Raise your arms to 90 degrees and lean gently to each side, maintaining a straight back. Rotate your neck clockwise and counterclockwise, moving your head towards each shoulder while keeping your body straight.

You can also perform this stretch to take pressure off the front of your neck, allowing your head to sit back in a more comfortable and natural position and avoid neck pain.

Take Regular Breaks & Move Around

Whenever possible, pull over and take short breaks to walk around or stretch. When driving for long stretches, take a break to move your back around and stretch your hip rotators and stretch your hamstrings. This will take pressure off the muscles that are pulling on your pelvis, leading to more back pain while driving.

And, of course, when you get back from your long drive, make sure you have an appointment scheduled at our office so we can help make sure everything is back where it needs to be and your spine is working at optimal levels.

Dr. Philip Cordova

About the author

Dr. Philip Cordova is a chiropractor in Houston, Texas. He grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and decided to become a chiropractor after hurting his back as a teenager and getting help from chiropractic care. He is speaker on health & posture. Click Here To Read His Full Bio

Recent Posts