It’s time to pack up the car and set out on a summer road trip. But sitting in a car for hours can take a toll on your spine. “Whether you have a history of back pain or not, you need to protect your back during a long car trip,” says Dr. Ezriel Kornel, host of WOR’s “Back Talk Live!” and principal of Brain and Spine Surgeons of New York.
Dr. Kornel recommends the following steps to help prevent back pain while driving:
STRETCH BEFORE AND AFTER.
Treat travel as an athletic event warm up by stretching before settling into a car, and cool down in the same manner once you arrive at your destination.
SUPPORT YOUR LOWER BACK.
If your car seat doesn’t offer enough support for your lower back, there is a wide selection of seat cushions, pillows, and other travel items on the market that are designed to make you much more comfortable. But if you don’t want to go that route, you can roll up a towel and create a makeshift cushion between your lower back and the car seat. Note that the widest part of the support should be between the bottom of your rib cage and your waistline.
TAKE DRIVING BREAKS.
Sitting in the same position for long periods of time is sure to exacerbate your back pain or cause strain. Make sure you take the time to get out and stretch and walk at rest stops and towns along the way. Taking just a few minutes to do some stretches for your back and limbs can make a big difference in preventing pain.
BRING AN ICE PACK.
Bring a cooler packed with some ice packs to relieve pain on the road. If you need to ice your back, limit it to 15 minutes at a time. Also, make sure there is a barrier, such as a towel, between the ice and your skin.
MAINTAIN GOOD POSTURE.
It is important to maintain good posture while driving to prevent injuries to your back and neck. Try your best to avoid a slumping posture that is characterized by a hunched back and thrusting your head forward. Keep your pelvis as far back as possible in the seat, keep your spine as straight as possible, and let your shoulders relax.