8 top tips from to prevent back pain from driving
Back pain is a common health problem. A 2010 study found that lower back affects almost 10% of the population, with the risks increasing with age. According to the UK Health and Safety Executive, 41% of all workplace illnesses in 2015-16 were musculoskeletal disorders, which include back pain and around 8.8 million working days were lost in the same time period due to musculoskeletal problems.
Back pain is often not caused by anything in particular but staying active can help to prevent it. This means that people who spend a lot of time driving can be particularly prone to the problem.
How does driving affect back pain?
There are two main reasons why driving impacts your back — poor posture and being in a fixed, position for an extended period of time.
Most people will suffer lower back pain at some point in their life, but those who tend to drive for more than 4 hours a day on a regularly are more at risk.
There are practical steps you can take to prevent back pain & damage when driving:
- Adjust your back rest so that it makes contact with your back from your bottom to your shoulders, about 100 to 110 degrees. Reclining too far back will make you strain your head and neck forward.
- Move the steering wheel up or down to the most comfortable position and distance from your body. Varying your hand position when you are driving can also help to relieve joints and improve circulation.
- Slide your seat forwards or back so that your elbows are 90 degrees or slightly more when your hands are at the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock position on the wheel.
- Position your bottom all the way to the back of the seat to support the natural ‘S’ shaped curvature of the spine and adjust your seat so that it supports the full length of your thighs.
- Adjust your headrest so that the mid-portion of the back of your head meets the middle of the cushion when you rest your head back
- Position your mirrors so that you can easily see all around without straining your back or neck.
- Take regular breaks. “All drivers should aim to have a break every two to three hours, so that you can move your back, hips and knees. Even a few minutes of walking or stretching will improve your concentration and make the rest of your journey more comfortable.”
- If your job also involves lifting items in and out of your vehicle, ensure your lower back is kept straight and that you bend from your knees. This will reduce the strain on your back. Your back is very vulnerable when you lift incorrectly, especially after you’ve been static for a long period of time.
It is important to remember that sometimes back pain needs further investigation.