Neck pain is something that many people experience on a regular basis. While the pain is sometimes caused by an injury or some other underlying medical issue, one of the main reasons for neck pain is due to driving and the strain it places on the neck's supporting muscles.
Many people don't think about all that is involved in the activity of driving. Not only does it involve extending your neck and holding it in place for extended periods of time, but it is also necessary to simultaneously use your upper body to steer and perform other needed tasks. So it is no wonder that doing this for hours every day can lead to neck pain!
There is almost no way to avoid driving for most people. Fortunately there are some ways to avoid neck pain, while keeping your mind clear to focus on more important things in your busy life.
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, let 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. If you have it, use it! 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 and neck.
- Take it easy - 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.
- Put Down The Phone - Looking down at your smartphone while driving is quickly becoming the number one cause of neck pain, and also one of the main causes of car accidents. So put the phone away and focus on the road.
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.
At the Illinois Back Institute we strive to educate everyone as much as possible about their back pain and sciatica, because it is proven that the more people know about their problem the more likely they are to eliminate it!
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