How to Prevent Back Pain on Long Road Trips

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Taking a road trip is a great, fun way to explore a country.

Road tripping with some friends whilst listening to some great tunes and taking in the scenery is one of the best ways to travel.

That being said, spending long hours on the road sitting behind the wheel can take its toll on your body, resulting in all sorts of aches and pains (particularly in the back area).

To prevent back pain from occurring while driving, there are a few guidelines you should follow:

Empty Your Back Pockets

First things first, before you get into your car make sure to take everything (such as your wallet or your keys) out of your back pockets. Having large items such as these will cause you to sit or lean to one side slightly, which is not good for your back if maintained for a long duration (as you’re not balancing out the pressure place on certain areas).

Relieve the Pressure Around Your Waist – Is Your Seatbelt Too Tight?

A lot of lower back pain can occur if there is too much pressure around your waist. This is usually caused by two things: The seatbelt being too tight or your trousers/pants being tight around your waist.

If you find your seatbelt it tight around your waist, don’t be afraid to loosen it slightly so that it’s not adding any extra pressure to your back.

It’s also a good idea to wear stretchy trousers (such as jogging bottoms with an elastic waistband), or to undo the top button of your trousers/shorts so that there’s no additional pressure being placed around your waistline.

Back pain due to poor driving position

Maintain Proper Body Position

As you drive, it’s easy to lean towards one side of your body more than the other. By maintaining proper body position while driving (and sitting up straight), you’re ensuring that the amount of tension placed on both sides of the back is equal.

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Authority recommends that your hands are placed at 3 and 9 o’clock on the steering wheel, as this will help keep your body straight.

In addition to this, make sure you’re not sitting too far (or too close) to the pedals on the floor. If you’re too close you’ll be cramped up, and if you’re too far away you’ll have to slouch down in order to reach them.

Ideally, you want to sit close enough to the pedals so that your arms are bend slightly as you hold the steering wheel.

Support Your Lower Back

Some people like to put cushions behind their back to give them additional lumbar support as they drive, and this can work well.

Whenever you use a car seat cushion for back pain, however, be sure that it’s straightening your back (instead of just bending it further in another direction), otherwise you’ll just be solving one problem by creating another.

Instead of using a cushion for car seat back support, you might want to consider placing a small, rolled up towel just behind your lower back.

Take Frequent Breaks

Taking frequent breaks on a long road trip will help to prevent back pain from occurring (by relieving the tension and strain of sitting in the car seat), and it’ll give you a chance to stretch your legs and get the blood flowing around your body.

Strengthen Your Core with Exercises

As an additional activity, you can aim to stretch out and strengthen your back before and after driving by performing some basic exercises.

You should aim at strengthening your core, so plank exercises and leg lifts work great.

Stock Up on Food & Drink

Lastly, it’s not just your back that might suffer on a long road trip – long distance drives are often accompanied by scores of unhealthy fast food.

It’s a good idea to pack a bunch of healthy snacks (such as bananas and apples) and bottles of water in a cooler before you leave so that you’ll have an alternative to the fast food restaurants found along the highway.

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