Easy Tips to Relieve Back Pain While Driving

Discover practical tips to relieve back pain while driving, from proper posture and lumbar support to stretches and exercises for a more comfortable journey.

Driving for a long time might make your back hurt.1 To stop the pain, try moving your seat, adding support for your lower back, and using special seat features.1 It’s harder on your body to sit in a car than on a couch. You might feel your muscles get tight because you sit in the same spot for hours.2 Cars don’t always have good support for your lower back like chairs do.2 But, with some changes and the right gear, you can feel better when driving.

Key Takeaways

  • Driving for extended periods can increase the risk of back pain.
  • Adjusting seat settings, using lumbar support, and applying topical pain relief can help alleviate discomfort.
  • Heated seats and massage features may provide soothing relief for tight muscles and stiff joints.
  • Proper posture and taking regular breaks are essential for maintaining back health on long drives.
  • Consulting a medical professional is recommended if back pain persists despite self-care efforts.

Understanding Back Pain While Driving

Many drivers complain of back pain.1 This is due to how we sit and the vehicle’s vibrations, which stress back muscles and ligaments.3 Those who drive long distances, like truckers, may feel this most.3 It’s important to sit with your back, legs, and neck in the right position.3 This keeps your spine from getting strained and prevents back pain.3 And all the shaking in the car can increase the chances of experiencing back pain or sciatica.

Causes of Back Pain During Driving

3 Slouching or rounding your back is a bad habit that can make back pain worse.3 If your car seat lacks support, you’re more likely to feel this pain.1 Back cushions that support the lower back, called lumbar cushions, are very helpful.1 They keep your back in a good position when driving.

Why Driving Can Exacerbate Back Pain

Driving can make back pain worse for several reasons.3 The stress of the road and feeling tired can make your shoulder, neck, and back muscles tight and painful. Things like old injuries, condition of your health, and how long you drive can all play a part in this.

Adjust Your Seating Position

Finding the right seat spot is key for less back pain when driving. Try moving your seat up, down, forward, and back. Change the angle to see what’s best for your back.1 Make sure your spine is straight and you sit evenly. This helps you keep good posture and lessens back pressure.

Proper Seat Adjustment for Back Support

Set your car seat so there’s room for at least two fingers behind your knees.4 Tilting the seat a bit, about 100 to 110 degrees, helps lower back pressure too.4

Importance of Lumbar Support

Using a lumbar cushion can ease lower back ache. It fits between your lower back and the seat to give more support.1 This is great, especially for older folks with back issues on long trips.1

Proper seating position

Optimize Your Steering Wheel Position

Change where your steering wheel sits to ease neck and upper back strain.5 Make sure your arms stay a bit bent and your wrists straight. It keeps your middle back from hurting.5 Also, pulling the steering wheel nearer can stop muscles in your neck, shoulders, and upper back from overworking.6 It’s good to hold the steering wheel at 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., not 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. This eases arm strain, especially with comfy armrests.

Adjusting Steering Wheel Height

5 Move your seat up, down, forwards, backwards until it feels right. This reduces tiredness on long trips.7 Taller seat settings help avoid craning your neck down or to the side. It’s good for neck health.

Grip Position for Reduced Arm Strain

6 Change where the steering wheel is so your arms are relaxed and just a bit bent. This stops your upper back and shoulders from aching.5 Make sure your arms are a little bent and your wrists are straight. It stops your middle back from hurting.

Utilize Seat Heating and Massage Features

Heat from car seats can make you feel better. It does this by moving your blood more and making tight blood vessels open up. This helps relax tight muscles, stops spasms, and eases stiff joints, all to lower back pain1. Some seats can even give you a massage, making you feel even more comfortable1. If your car doesn’t have this, buy a heated cover for your seat.

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Increased Blood FlowHeated seats get your blood moving better. This means more oxygen and nutrients reach your muscles1.
Muscle RelaxationHeat helps ease tight and overworked muscles. It also cuts down on spasms1.
Joint Pain ReliefBack heat can make spinal joints less stiff and painful1.
Massage IntegrationSeats that can massage take back pain relief to another level1.

Heating and massaging seats in your car can really help with back pain while driving1. They are great for long drives or if you already have back problems.

Wear Comfortable and Supportive Shoes

Some shoes like flip-flops and high heels make driving harder and can cause more lower back pain.1 These kinds of shoes mess with how you sit. So, your seat settings won’t feel right unless your shoes are flat and fit well.8 The best shoes for driving are sneakers or any others that are comfy and give you good grip. They can also make the car’s movements feel smoother because they absorb some of the shocks.1

If your feet don’t get enough blood flow, it can be really uncomfortable to drive for long periods. Taking breaks on a long trip keeps your muscles from getting too tight because of poor blood flow.8 Making sure you sit well in the car really helps with not getting upper back pain. Another really important thing is to wear shoes that are comfy and support your feet. This is key when you’re driving for a long time.8

how to relieve back pain while driving

Using Topical Pain Relief Products

Use topical pain remedies for a break from back pain when driving. You can find them over the counter. They may have CBD, capsaicin, and arnica, which help with swelling and muscle pain.1 Some even have menthol for a cool feel. For really bad pain, ask your doctor about diclofenac gels.1

Long-Acting Pain Relief Patches

For longer lasting relief, try pain relief patches. Heat patches or lidocaine patches last for hours, perfect for a long trip.1 They’ll target the pain, letting you concentrate on driving safely.

Take Advantage of Cruise Control

Using cruise control can make driving easier and reduce back pain.1 When you use it, you can relax your legs by putting both on the floor. Keeping your knees bent, it helps balance your weight just right. This way, your back doesn’t need to work as hard.

Changing Leg Positions with Cruise Control

Cruise control lets you move your legs for more comfort.1 You don’t have to keep one foot busy on the gas pedal. Instead, both feet stay flat. This change helps spread your weight through your legs, easing the pressure on your back.

Schedule Regular Breaks

It’s a good idea to take breaks often to ease back pain in the car.1 Aim for walking and stretching to lower stiffness and tension. This stops the pain from increasing.9

Look for a grassy spot to do simple stretch or yoga moves for your back.9 This also cuts down on swelling and fluid in your legs, easing back pain.

Stretching and Walking During Breaks

Every two hours, it’s best to stop and move to avoid aches while driving.9 Doing exercises that boost mobility, strength, and control helps with back issues.9

Focus on making your abs, glutes, hip flexors, and back stronger.9 This improves how well your body can handle long hours sitting.

Maintain Good Posture

Keeping a straight back is key to stop or ease back pain while driving.2 Sitting with shoulders hunched and back bent blocks blood and nerves in your back and neck. This can make joint and muscle pain worse.1 Sitting badly in the car is a big reason for back pain.1 Even trying to sit right might not stop all the aches and tightness from sitting too long.

Avoiding Slouching and Rounding

Tweak your seat and add a cushion for your lower back to stop slouching.1 Changing your seat to sit straight and even is smart. It helps keep your back from hurting.2 Also, moving the seat and headrest up can make you sit better and take off back pressure.

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Adjusting Posture During Long Drives

On long drives, shift how you sit now and then to stay comfy and pain-free.10 If you sit over two hours, your back might start hurting more.1 Moving a bit can spread out the pressure in your back. If you can, switch with a friend to move more often.

Avoid Heavy Lifting

Lifting heavy things can hurt your back, like boxes and suitcases. It might even tear back muscles.2 So, if your work or trip needs you to lift lots, be careful.

Proper Lifting Techniques

The right way to lift is to bend your knees, not your back.2 Doing this makes sure the weight spreads out. It also keeps your back from getting too tired. Don’t bend from your waist or stretch to grab stuff. This might hurt your back.

While picking stuff up, stand up straight, tighten your belly, and push with your legs.9 Also, try to break big, heavy things into smaller parts first. This makes them easier to handle and lifts some burden off your back.

Take care to lift things right. This helps keep your back safe and stop any pain.2 Using the right methods can mean a trip without backaches. So, always remember these tips.

Stay Hydrated

It’s hard to stay hydrated on the road, but it’s super important. It helps keep us healthy and stops back spasms and cramps.11 Our bodies are mostly made up of water. The discs in our backs need a lot of water, too. This makes sure our backs can handle shocks.11 Our muscles and other parts of the body also need water.11

To stay healthy, always have water or electrolyte drinks with you. Drink lots during long trips.11 Aim to drink half your weight in water ounces daily. This keeps your brain, health, and back in good shape.11

Hydration RecommendationsKey Insights
  1. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day11
  2. Eat whole fresh fruits and vegetables, as they have high water content11
  3. Avoid milk, juice, soda, and alcoholic beverages as they do not count as water intake11
  4. Consume unsweetened tea and black coffee without additives, as they are as effective as water11
  5. Use Gatorade to replenish lost fluids after intense physical activity, but do not replace water intake due to its high caloric and sodium content11
  • Proper hydration is crucial for back health and muscle function11
  • Dehydration can lead to back spasms, muscle cramps, and impaired spinal disc integrity11
  • Staying hydrated is especially important in high-temperature environments or during physical activities that cause sweating11

Driving Ergonomics

Setting your seat and steering wheel right helps avoid back pain.12

Adjusting Mirrors for Reduced Neck Strain

Change your mirrors to see better without twisting your neck. Your upper back will thank you.12

Removing Pocket Items for Better Seating

Take your phone or wallet out of your pockets. This lets you sit better and offers good posture.12

Stretches and Exercises for Drivers

Doing stretches before, during, and after driving can lower back pain and make you more flexible.1 Sitting with the right posture while driving stops muscle spasms and back stiffness.1

Pre-Drive Stretches

Before you start driving, do easy moves like cat/cow poses, ragdoll stretches, and twists. It warms up your back and core muscles.1

Post-Drive Stretches and Movements

After driving a lot, do stretches like lunges, squats, and back arches to get your body moving again.113 Doing stretches several times a day eases tension and boosts blood flow. This is important for truck drivers who sit for a long time.13 Doing simple exercises for just a few minutes each day can really help truck drivers. It can reduce back and neck pain and prevent health problems from work.13

Add these stretches to your driving routine. It will lower your chance of having back pain. It also keeps you more flexible and comfy while driving.113

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Seeking Professional Help

Have you tried the tips but still have bad back pain when driving? It’s time to see a doctor.2 A doctor or a physiotherapist can find what’s wrong. They will make a plan just for you. This plan might mean more exercises or even special tools.

When to Consult a Medical Professional

About 60% of truck drivers have lower back pain, says the American Occupational Therapy Association.14 Sitting too much and the vibrations in a truck can cause this.14 If your back hurts, you might not move well and your daily life could be hard.14

For back pain, physiotherapy helps a lot. It checks you, uses hands-on treatment, and teaches exercises.14 Sitting right, taking breaks, and stretching are key. Following these tips can help protect your spine and stop back pain.14

If driving still makes your back hurt, don’t wait to get help.2 A healthcare pro can check your back and make a plan just for you. This plan might need physical therapy or more serious help if it’s really needed.2


Back pain while driving is common, but you can make it better.6 Adjust how you sit and use seat features like heat to help. Take breaks and do stretches to avoid back pain.6 Doing these things will help you enjoy driving without the discomfort.

Many people get back pain from driving, which can hurt your health.15 It’s the top musculoskeletal problem for people. To help, experts say adjust your seat right, take breaks often, and maybe get physical therapy.15

Doing the right things can keep your back pain-free.6 Stay hydrated, stretch, and maybe exercise to have a good drive.6 If you have bad back pain, see a doctor before long trips.6 The right steps will keep you focused and comfortable on the road.


What are some tips to relieve back pain while driving?

Adjust your seat well and use lumbar support for back pain relief. Consider applying topical pain relievers. Heated seats and massages help too. Take regular breaks for stretching.

What causes back pain while driving?

Poor posture and lack of support are key causes. Sitting in the same position for a long time worsens back pain. The car’s vibrations and mental stress also play a part.

How can I properly adjust my car seat to reduce back pain?

To reduce back pain, adjust your seat by moving it and changing its angle. Place a lumbar support cushion on your seat. This helps support your lower back.

How can adjusting the steering wheel position help with back pain?

Lower the steering so your arms don’t need to stretch much. Hold the wheel at 9:00 and 3:00 instead of 10:00 and 2:00. This eases pressure on your upper body.

What features in my car can help relieve back pain?

Heated seats and massages can relax your muscles. They reduce pain by soothing stiff joints. Topical creams and patches can also help relieve back pain.

How can the type of shoes I wear impact back pain while driving?

Wearing unsupportive shoes can change your posture and lead to back pain. Choose supportive shoes like sneakers for longer drives.

When should I take breaks while driving to help my back?

Take breaks often to walk and stretch. This prevents stiffness and reduces back tension. Gentle stretches or yoga during breaks can also help.

How can I maintain good posture while driving for back support?

Keep from slouching in your seat. Changing your sitting position sometimes is good. This avoids pressure issues and lessens muscle tightness.

What should I do if I have to lift heavy objects when driving?

When lifting heavy things, squat down. Use your leg muscles to lift. This protects your back from getting hurt.

How can staying hydrated help with back pain while driving?

Drinking enough water stops back spasms and cramps. Always keep hydrated with water or drinks that have electrolytes during your trip.

Source Links

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/back-pain/lower-back-pain-when-driving
  2. https://www.orthopedicandlaserspinesurgery.com/10-tips-to-reduce-back-pain-while-driving
  3. https://saratogaspine.com/back-pain-while-driving/
  4. https://www.americarept.com/2021/10/08/how-to-adjust-your-car-seat-to-help-with-your-back-pain/
  5. https://nynjspine.com/middle-back-pain-relief-tips-for-holiday-road-trips/
  6. https://www.joionline.net/library/show/spinal_stenosis_and_correct_driving_posture/
  7. https://njpcs.org/driving-avoid-back-pain-and-neck-pain/
  8. https://yourbackpainrelief.com/blogs/news/how-car-back-supports-help-back-pain-when-driving
  9. https://www.barefootphysiotherapy.com.au/back-problems-from-driving-try-these-3-tips/
  10. https://elitespinehouston.com/5-tips-to-reduce-back-pain-while-driving/
  11. https://nightlightchiropractic.com/stay-hydrated-to-reduce-back-pain/
  12. https://www.americarept.com/2021/10/08/how-to-adjust-your-car-seat-to-help-with-your-back-pain
  13. https://www.fcc-inc.com/best-stretches-for-truck-drivers/
  14. https://profusionrehab.com/relieving-back-pain-from-driving/
  15. https://continuousmotionpt.com/relieve-back-pain-from-driving/