Riding in a vehicle can be a real problem for people with back and neck pain. Sitting in a vehicle is even worse than sitting in many other places, because the seat is much lower to the floor than any seat you would find at home or work. Prolonged sitting positions are particularly bad for aggravating stiffness and muscle spasm. Even getting in and out of the vehicle can be aggravating, especially when you consider how many times a day you may actually be getting in and out of the car. Here are some ways to break the pain caused by driving.
1. Getting in the car. When entering a car, be careful to slide in sideways with no twist -OR- sit on the edge of the seat, swing both knees around, avoiding a twist in the low back. Do not twist or “drop” heavily down into the seat; this severely jars the spine.
2. Sitting in the car. When sitting in a car use proper lumbar support across the lower back. For longer rides, vary the amount of lumbar support or even use a small towel which can be folded or rolled to different thicknesses. Avoid sitting on a thick wallet which causes the hips to be uneven. Raise the head rest up almost to the top of your head.
3. Exiting a car. Push the seat all the way back, and raise the steering wheel. Swivel both legs out at the same time. Push out of the car using your arms. If the vehicle is too high (like a van), slide out sideways one leg at a time; do not twist.
4. Reaching in the car. Avoid twisting to reach something on the back seat. This is a frequent cause of back pain and shoulder problems. Also be careful of reaching across the front seats to grab a heavy computer bag or purse. It is safer to open the appropriate car door, slightly bend one knee, and reach into the car supporting yourself with the opposite hand. Pull the object as close to you as possible before lifting.
5. Lifting objects out of the trunk. Support yourself by placing a foot on the bumper -OR- brace yourself by placing a hand or elbow on the car. Maintain proper spinal curves by always lifting your head up before you lift the load. Pull the load as close to you as possible before lifting. Place the load on the trunk edge for leverage.
ALWAYS WEAR YOUR SEATBELT!