It’s no secret that car rides can be hard on your lower back—especially if you have to travel for an extended period of time.
See: Office Chair, Posture, and Driving Ergonomics
The key to finding relief is to make a plan before you set off on your trip, and these 3 little-known tips can help you do exactly that:
1. Schedule regular stops for exercise
Sitting in one position for an extended period of time can tighten your back muscles, which in turn can lead to pain and even muscle spasms. So then, it’s a good idea to schedule stops every 30 to 60 minutes so you can walk around and stretch your lower back. This activity loosens your muscles and encourages blood circulation, bringing nutrients and oxygen to your lower back.
In addition to scheduling regular stops, try adjusting the position of your seat every 15 to 20 minutes. You can also pump your ankles to stimulate blood flow and to provide a slight hamstring stretch. Basically, any movement that’s safe to perform while driving can contribute to the relief of your back pain.
2. Bring a cold pack to relieve your lower back pain
More often than not, back pain is accompanied by inflammation. Applying a cold pack for 15 to 20 minutes can reduce this inflammation and numb sore tissues, both of which can relieve your pain.
Of course, finding relief through cold therapy on a road trip requires advanced planning. Here are a few simple options you can consider:
- Before you leave on your trip, fill a cooler with reusable ice packs. You can also make your own customizable ice packs at home and toss them in the cooler.
- Purchase instant ice packs at a pharmacy or general merchandise store. You can store these instant packs in the glove compartment of your car.
- If you’re in a pinch, you can purchase ice and plastic bags on your trip—just make sure the bags are leak-free.
Regardless of which option you choose, remember to place a protective barrier between your skin and the cold pack to avoid ice burn.
3. Break up your trip into manageable stages
It seems counterintuitive, but sitting places more pressure on your spine than standing. So if your lower back pain is severe, consider breaking up your road trip into manageable stages. For example, rather than traveling 12 hours in one day, try 2 travel days instead. This strategy can help reduce the pressure on your spine—and it may encourage you to seek out unique tourist destinations.
Of course, breaking up your trip may cost you additional time and money—but it’s worth it if you can avoid lower back discomfort.
I hope all of the above advice will help keep your lower back happy and healthy during your next road trip.