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Avoid driving yourself to distraction!

The summer is now upon us and I’m sure you are all hoping to make the best of the weather with days out and you may be going on holiday. Well so are most of the population and the chances are you’ll get caught up in congested traffic! This article is aimed at helping you minimise the impact of those long delays on your back so you can drive in comfort.

Plan your journey

Plan your journey ahead and schedule stop-off points for regular breaks. I recommend a break every two hours but more frequently if you are a back pain sufferer. Check traffic reports before you leave so you can plan any necessary diversions and if you are unfortunate enough to get stuck in traffic, take an earlier break than planned. It’s better to spend your time outside the car than bolted to your car seat!

Are you sitting comfortably?

I hope you are all now aware that our backs are not designed for being sedentary and for those that have existing back issues, the likelihood of your back seizing up on a long car journey is greater. Ensuring you are sitting comfortably and minimising the stress on your body is essential, however long your journey. Osteopathy can also help you by making sure that your back is in good order before you set off.

Help yourself to drive without distraction:

  • Wear comfortable loose fitting clothes to ensure you can move freely in your seat
  • Avoid wearing high heels or thick-soled shoes. This position results in your thigh being lifted off the seat and creates tension in your leg muscles, potentially resulting in cramp
  • If you share your car, make sure the seat and mirrors are adjusted, to you, before setting off
  • Your seat should be set slightly backwards and at the correct height for your arms to relax comfortably on the steering wheel. Your arms should be slightly bent at the elbow when on the steering wheel. If the steering wheel is too high, it creates tension around your shoulders and upper back. Equally, if the steering wheel is too low and brushing your legs, it may reduce your ability to move the wheel with ease and add strain to your upper body.

Car seat exercises

If you do end up getting completely gridlocked, don’t despair; you can always try the following exercises in your car seat:

  • Clockwise/anticlockwise circles and shoulder shrugs
  • If you are able to move your seat back to straighten your leg, you can stretch your calf muscles by bringing your foot towards you
  • Bend down to each side
  • Twist to each side
  • Clench your buttocks
  • Push your hands into the steering wheel and your back into the seat, at the same time.

So let your Osteopath help you to avoid driving yourself to distraction!