While trips are fun and exciting, they can be dreadful for people with back pain on a road trip. The long hours behind the wheel trigger back pain on the lower and the upper back. It is because, unlike regular sitting, driving subjects the body to different forces. These forces include lateral swaying to accelerations to up and down vibrations.
These vibrations disrupt the discs between the vertebrae, and together with the car seat, causes back pain. When this occurs for some people, it exasperates the problem in those already suffering from the pain. However, most of us know that back pain on a road trip kills the fun of it. Therefore, how can we alleviate it?
Ensure you sit comfortably
On a road trip, even the smallest irritant can trigger raging back pain. Hence the need to ensure you are comfortable from the time the road trip begins. Below are ways to achieve pain relief from back pain on a road trip:
- Maintaining an upright position. To achieve an upright posture position, keep your knees slightly higher than your hips and with your chin pulled in. Therefore, the head maintains an upright position on top of the spine.
- Keep the back aligned with the seatback. You can place a small pillow between the seat and the lower back to support the contour of the lower back.
- Empty the back pockets. When sitting on your phone, or wallet, this disrupts the necessary spine alignment.
- Maintain the prescribed distance from the steering wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises motorists to sit ten inches from the steering wheel and keep their hands at 9 and 3. It allows you to rest the elbows on the armrests and ease the pain on the upper back. Sitting too far exerts pressure on your neck, lumbar spine, shoulder, and wrist.
Cold Therapy for Back Pain on a Road Trip
Consider carrying a cooler for storing reusable ice packs and other cold therapy packs. Placing an ice pack on the back reduces inflammation and numbs the area. You can also buy heat packs, pads, or wraps to alternate between heat and cold therapy every 20 minutes.
The heat increases blood flow and keeps your muscles relaxed. Alternatively, consider making a moist heat pack by placing it in a microwave, so it remains warm during the trip.
Consider the Type of Car You are Using
People who have chronic back pain should consider bringing a hatchback or a saloon car and avoid an SUV or other high-riding vehicles. These cars provide a smoother ride and are great at isolating bumps, which trigger back pain.
Also, see Acute vs. Chronic Pain
Make Regular Stops to Stretch to Avoid Back Pain on a Road Trip
Sitting in the same position for a long time makes the back muscles stiff and often leads to muscle spasm. A fifteen-minute break after every two hours keeps your muscles relaxed. People with chronic back pain should take more breaks when on a road trip, e.g., after every 30-60 minutes of travel.
Consider Changing Your Tires
If your car has low profile tires, consider replacing them with thicker sidewalls. Because this helps absorb bumps better, ultimately, protecting your spine.
Although it’s always a good idea to prepare for long car trips, it’s also a good idea to check with your doctor. Depending on the reason for your back pain, he/she might suggest other alternatives to driving.
If you are experiencing back pain without relief, call us today for a preferred back pain specialist in the area, at 888-409-8006. We want to help keep you pain-free, without having to experience back pain on a road trip.