When your car is stationary, sitting in it is probably similar to lounging in a padded chair. However, the moment your car starts moving, everything changes. In contrast to normal sitting, when your car is moving and experiencing accelerations and decelerations, your body is subject to a variety of forces, including up-and-down vibrations as it sways from side to side.
The effects of whole-body vibration on a person seated in a car seat have been studied by researchers. According to research findings, your lumbar spine has a natural resonance frequency of four to five Hz. Driving a lab-simulated car excited this natural frequency, causing high lower back spinal loadings. And as a result, there may be greater postural discomfort as well as a higher possibility of lower back pain and injury.
Your left foot should be on the clutch if your car has a manual transmission, and your right foot should be on the accelerator. When you drive, you are also actively using your feet. The stabilising and supporting functions that your feet normally perform when you place them on the floor while seated in a chair are not possible when your feet are active. Your chance of developing back problems may arise as a result of these interrelated factors as well as the seat’s construction in the car.
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You can improve the problem of back pain while driving by following the tips mentioned below:
1. POOR POSTURE
Posture is very important. Living a sedentary lifestyle or regularly adopting poor posture while sitting can alter the structure of your neck and back. Your muscles may become weakened and out of shape, making them less able to maintain the neutral alignment of your spine than they once were. Your spine is more compressed when you lean forward with your shoulders and head.
Leaning frequently to one side, such as when using a computer or driving, can also result in an upper back imbalance that hurts. Additionally, sitting on your wallet can cause an uneven pelvis, hips, and back, which can cause back pain.
Back pain can develop from overusing your muscles and ligaments outside of driving and persist while you’re driving. Soft tissues can become strained and inflamed when the lumbar spine is overworked, which could result in pain and muscle spasms.
3. COLLISION OR ACCIDENT
Injuries to the spine’s discs, bones, ligaments, muscles, soft tissues, and nerves can cause upper back pain, as can trauma from falls from great heights, car accidents, or sports collisions.
4. IMPROPER LIFTING TECHNIQUE
Your upper back may become more stressed if you lift a heavy object without keeping your spine straight. Your upper back and shoulder are more susceptible to injury if you hold or lift a heavy object above your head, especially if you lean more to the right or left than the centre.
5. COMPRESSION FRACTURES
A vertebral bone’s capacity to fully support the weight above it can deteriorate and lose some strength. This can occur in older adults with osteoporosis. The front vertebra becomes compressed and forms a wedge shape, which is accompanied by minor fractures. Loss of height in the vertebra can result in pain and postural changes.
Tips to Prevent Back Pain While Driving
1. Adjust your headrest and seat.
Making sure your seat is properly adjusted is the first thing you can do to reduce back pain while driving. While not being too close to jeopardize your safety, you’ll want to sit fairly close to the steering wheel. Your neck, lumbar, wrists, and shoulders will experience less strain if the steering wheel is within easy reach. You won’t have to strain to reach the pedals if you’re relatively close. Make sure your hips and knees are not higher than each other. Additionally, you should adjust the seat’s angle so that the back is at a 100- to 110-degree angle, which will enable you to sit comfortably. Your head should be centered on the headrest of your car. To ensure proper posture and positioning, maintain a neutral neck and back of the head. Shoulders should be placed just slightly back from the hips.
2. ESTABLISH LUMBAR SUPPORT
To maximize back support in your car, make sure to position yourself with your back firmly against the seat. A lumbar support accessory might be required because many vehicles don’t have enough lumbar support. Therefore, if you need back support while driving, rolling up a sweatshirt and placing it behind the small of your back may be helpful.
Your lower back and hamstrings may feel less strain if you bend your knees just a little bit higher than your hips. Your neck, back, and hips function similarly to cogwheels; as you move one, the others will follow.
3. Modify your grip on the steering wheel.
In order to position yourself at the wheel in the most comfortable way while dealing with back pain, researchers have been examining various options. Previously, experts advised holding the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions. But now that airbags are more common, studies show that for increased safety in the event of an airbag deployment, you should position your hands at the nine and three o’clock positions. You can also put your elbows on the armrests of the car in this position to help with pain relief, especially for your upper back.
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