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The Ultimate Back Pain Relief Tips Blog

Avoid Neck Pain with Smart Driving

Posted by Dr. Jeff Winternheimer D.C. on Fri, May 23, 2014 @ 10:45 AM

neck painYour vehicle needs careful driving and regular maintenance to perform its best.  You can avoid neck pain related to driving by caring for your own body every day.

Many people find themselves experiencing neck pain on a regular basis.  Sometimes this is caused by an injury or underlying medical problem.  It can also be brought on by the neck's supporting muscle structures and the strain placed on them by many different activities.  One of these is driving.  If you think about it, driving involves extending your neck and holding it in place while also using your upper body and extremities to perform steering and other tasks.  Doing this for hours each day can clearly cause neck pain.

There is almost no way to avoid driving for most people.  Fortunately there are some ways to avoid neck pain, keeping your mind clear to focus on more important things in your busy life.

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Avoid Neck Pain and Keep on Driving

Driving can cause a lot of stress that contributes to neck pain.  With some simple steps prior to and during your drive, you can do a lot to prevent discomfort in your neck.

  • Choose the best seating position. With your hands positioned at 15 and 45 minutes on the steering wheel, lets your arms rest comfortably.  Many people recline their seats far back, but it should remain almost straight with an incline angle no greater than ten degrees. Remember to position your seat close enough to the steering wheel to avoid leaning forward.
  • Give your head a rest. Your seat's headrest should be positioned so that the center of the back area of your head is gently supported.
  • Give your back some help. Many vehicles offer seating with adjustable lumbar support.  Use this well if you have it, and make sure that the small space where your lower back curves is filled by the support.  You can also use a travel pillow to achieve the same support.
  • Use the mirrors for better sight. You can avoid  a lot of extra head movement by setting your mirrors to provide you the best sight lines possible.  
  • Stop straining your eyes.  If you find yourself constantly squinting or having difficulty seeing while drive, you probably also place extra stress on your neck by pushing it forward.  You may not even realize it, but this is a natural reaction when you have poor vision.  Proper vision aids like contact lenses and sunglasses when needed are not only important for your safety, but also for helping you to avoid neck pain.  Don't forget to keep a clean windshield either.
  • Set the cruise and go.  Using the cruise control when it is safe to do so will let you rest your feet in a more natural position, easing strain on your back.
  • Take it easy.  Whether you like the '70s band The Eagles or not, they do have some great advice for driving.  When you get a little tired or stiff, take it easy for a while and have a break from driving. Stretch out the areas where you are feeling some tension, and have a short walk to prepare yourself for the next leg of your drive.

Driving is a constant part of our lives, and that won't change soon for most of us.  But with the simple steps outlined above, you can do a lot to avoid neck pain while keeping the drive going.  

Remember to take breaks from driving when you can.  Having a relaxing stretch and a walk might take a little more time, but you and your neck will enjoy the benefits.  

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Topics: neck pain, Back Pain Tips, upper neck pain, severe neck pain, chronic neck pain, lower neck pain