Pains, drains and automobiles
Commuting long distances is a common occurrence in this spread-out country that we live in. Not only is this draining on our minds and bodies, but it is also commonly associated with pain in the back, neck and shoulders, particularly for those who regularly spend long hours in the driver’s seat.
While newer cars often have more adjustable driver’s seats, they still tend to lack adequate lumbar support – encouraging poor posture as your supporting muscles fatigue. Over time you begin to slump with your head and neck dropping forward, resulting in pain and discomfort. The longer you drive, the more prone you become to maintaining this poor posture.
There are other factors involved with sitting in a vehicle for long periods that exasperate the issue, such as the vibrations, swaying, bumping and jarring from the surface being driven over along with bends in the road. These forces increase the pressure being placed on the spine, or more specifically the shock absorbing discs of the spine.
Whether you’re driving for work, recreationally or for a holiday, there are some points you should keep in mind to help make your journey more comfortable.
1. Ensure that you are positioned at a comfortable distance from the steering wheel – your elbows should be slightly bent and you shoulder blades relaxed and resting against the backrest. Overstretching to reach the wheel causes your arms, shoulders and neck to strain.
2. Make sure that you’re sitting a comfortable distance from the pedals – again, overstretching will cause you to strain, while sitting too close makes your knees and hips over-flex.
3. Check that the angle of the back of your seat isn’t too upright or reclined – this will force your body into a poor posture.
4. Avoid driving solidly for extended periods – where possible, schedule stops every hour or so to get out of the car, go for a brief walk and stretch for a few minutes.
For additional advice such as how you can provide yourself with adequate lumbar support, exercises or specific stretches to prevent and relieve your driving pain and discomfort contact our friendly Physiotherapy practice in Hoppers Crossing on (03) 9749 5110. Don’t waste your next trip being distracted by pain and discomfort, schedule an appointment today and let one of our Hoppers Physios help to make your next trip a more comfortable one. If you’re in less pain, your drive will be less of a drain!