- Low Back Pain: What You Can Do
- Driving and Back Care
- 7 Tips to Alleviate Back Pain on Your Road Trips
- 1. Get comfortable immediately
- 2. Make your ride as smooth as possible
- 3. Get out and move around
- 4. Shift your position periodically
- 5. Try cold or heat therapy
- 6. Support your back with your feet
- 7. Employ diversions from pain
- Bonus tip
- Learn more:
- 8 Tips to Manage Back Pain While Driving
- Best Lumbar Support for Cars: Our Top Picks for Comfort
- Benefits of Lumbar Support for Cars
- Types of Lumbar Support for Cars
- Top Brands
- Lumbar Support Pricing
- Key Features
- Other Considerations
- 8 Simple Stretches to Relieve Lower Back Pain
- Lower back pain is common
- 1. Knee-to-chest
- 2. Trunk rotation
- 3. Cat-cow stretch
- 4. Pelvic tilt
- 5. Seat forward bend
- 6. Flexion rotation
- 7. Supported bridge
- 8. Belly flops
- The bottom line
- Best Cars to Buy for People with Bad Backs: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide
- The Worst Vehicles for Bad Backs
- 7. ComfySure 3 Piece Seat Cushion Set
- 8. BackJoy Posture Plus
- 9. Uhealer Premium Comfort Seat Cushion
- 10. General Armor Gel Chair Seat Cushion
- Cushions for Back Pain Buying Guide
- Back pain ‘driving’ you mad?
- Back pain and driving
- 11 tips to reduce back pain while driving
Low Back Pain: What You Can Do
Listen to your body. If a certain movement or exercise causes pain, stop and pay attention. Discuss with your doctor or other health care professional what movements are safe for you to do. Here are a few reminders about what you can do to protect your back:
Rest, but not too much. In most cases, it’s best to not stay in bed for more than a day or two after an acute injury. If you stay in bed longer than this, your muscles start to lose strength and their ability to support your back. Stay as active as you can, while continuing to listen to your body’s signals.
Sit and stand safely. What are the positions you’re in most of day? Whether at work or home, are you doing everything you can to protect your low back with good posture? You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: Good posture is critical. Sit or stand with your back aligned; imagine a line from your ears through your hips. Try to catch yourself when you’re slouching.
Here are some other things to remember:
- Sit and drive as little as possible if back pain is acute. Avoid sitting on soft, low couches.
- Make sure your work surface is at a comfortable height for you.
- Use a chair with good lumbar support or use a pillow or rolled-up towel for support. Position your chair at the right height for your task. Rest your feet on a low stool.
- When getting up from a sitting position, scoot to the edge of your seat, get your feet directly underneath you, and stand. Avoid bending at the waist.
- When driving, make sure you’ve got good lumbar support. Position the seat so you maintain a curve in your low back and your hips are lower than your knees.
- When getting out of the car, support your back: Swing both legs out, don’t twist. On long road trips, take regular breaks to walk around for a few minutes.
Lift and move safely. Change positions often. If you have a desk job, for example, be sure to get up, move around, and stretch every hour. Gently arch your back. Need a reminder to move? Set an alarm on your phone or computer. When doing activities like cleaning, weeding, or vacuuming, remember to keep the curve in your lower back as much as you can.
Driving and Back Care
Every day, almost 90% of journeys and 92% of miles traveled are made in cars or ground transportation (buses, trucks). For almost 180 millions of us, driving is the primary means of transportation, for journeys to and from work, to the store, and for pleasure. On average, men drive 44 miles and women drive 34 miles each day. We Americans love our cars. For some Americans, driving a motorized road vehicle is also their job: truck drivers, bus drivers, ambulance and fire trucks, police, taxis etc.
Modern car and truck designs have come a long way in their design over the past 20 years, with better styling, better features, better fuel efficiency and better comfort. But is there any evidence that driving and the design of modern car, bus or truck seats might play a role in causing some of the back injuries that plague Americans each year?
Do you experience back pain while driving? Research shows that driving and the design of modern car, bus or truck seats may play a role in causing some of the back injuries and pain. Photo Source: 123RF.com.
Why is driving different to ordinary sitting?
If your car isn’t moving, then sitting in a driving seat probably isn’t much different to sitting in a padded chair, but as soon as the vehicle starts moving things change. Unlike regular sitting, while a vehicle is in motion the body is subject to different forces: to accelerations and decelerations, to lateral swaying from side to side, and to whole-body up and down vibrations. Also, when driving the feet are actively being used, the right foot on the gas (accelerator) pedal, the left on the brake, and in a stick-shift also on the clutch. When the feet are active they cannot be used to support and stabilize the lower body as normally happens when they are placed on the floor during normal sitting in a chair. There is evidence that the combination of these factors, coupled with the design of the car seat itself, can increase the chance of back problems for some people.
Is driving associated with back problems?
Laboratory research has studied the effects of whole-body vibration when a person is sitting in a car seat. The lumbar spine has a natural resonant frequency of 4-5 Hz , and results show that this natural frequency can be excited by laboratory simulated vehicle driving, and this can lead to high spinal loadings in the lower back, and this in turn could result in greater postural discomfort and an increased risk of low back pain and injury.
A number of research studies have investigated possible associations between driving and back problems, and generally these studies have found significant results.
A comparison of drivers in the USA and in Sweden found that in each country 50% of those questioned reported low back pain. Analysis of the possible reasons for this revealed that long-term vibration exposure from driving was among the highest risk factors for neck, back and low back problems. Another recent Swedish study of over 1,000 salespeople found significantly increased risks of neck and low back pain among those who drove long distances and spent a long time each day in their car.
Gender appears to play a significant role in the likelihood of developing driving-related back problems. A survey of over 7000 Parisians found that even though the incidence and severity of low back pain was higher in women, driving was only associated with back problems in men. The importance of driving as a risk factor increased with driving time, and was especially significant for men who drove 4 hours or more each day.
A survey of over 1400 urban transit drivers showed that difficulties with the ability to correctly adjust the driving seat have significant effects on the prevalence of low back problems.
However, it seems that driving need not always increase the risk of back problems. A survey of over 100 members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police found no statistically significant associations between driving a patrol car and the likelihood of experiencing back pain, which was comparable for drivers and other police officers.
Is there an ideal car seat design?
Based on a detailed analysis of information from peer-reviewed scientific journals and texts, automotive engineering reports, and the National Library of Medicine a series of requirements for the optimal car seat design have been developed. Ideally, the optimal car seat should have:
- Adjustable seat back incline (100 degrees from horizontal is optimal)
- Changeable seat bottom depth (from seat back to front edge)
- Adjustable seat height
- Adjustable seat bottom incline
- Seat bottom cushion with firm (dense) foam
- Adjustable lumbar support (horizontally and vertically adjustable)
- Depth pulsating lumbar support to reduce static load
- Adjustable bilateral arm rests
- Adjustable seat back incline (100-degrees from horizontal is optimal
- Adjustable head restraint with lordosis pad
- Seat shock absorbers to dampen frequencies between 1- 20 Hz
- Linear front-back seat travel to allow differently sized drivers to reach the pedals
- Seat back damped to reduce rebounding of the torso in rear-end impacts
What to look for in a good car seat design when you buy your next car.
It’s likely that most cars on the market today won’t have all of the features listed above that are desirable in the optimal car seat, but some will have more than others, so choose wisely. Pay particular attention to the following 5 guidelines that should help you to protect your back when you drive.
1) Car seat comfort – when you sit in the car seat and you have adjusted this to fit your body as best you can does it feel comfortable. If not, then the car seat will probably cause you back discomfort problems if you drive for any length of time. Bounce up and down in the seat to see how it accommodates vibration. Take the car on a test drive.
2) Car seat adjustments – can you adjust all of the features of the car seat that you want to adjust? At a minimum you should be able to adjust:
- Seat distance to accommodate different leg lengths
- Seat height to accommodate different leg lengths
- Backrest angle to sit in either an upright or more reclined position
Then you should look for other useful adjustments:
- Seat tilt to angle the front of the seat up or down so that this doesn’t press against the back of your knees
- Lumbar cushion support for the lower back. Look for a car seat that provides you with good low back support that can be adjusted for depth (often the seat has an inflatable cushion) and preferably for height as well
- Headrest for neck support
- Arms rests that are wide, cushioned and comfortable, and preferably height adjustable
3) Change your posture – remember to move your posture from time to time. Wait until driving conditions are suitable to allow you to wriggle in the seat to alleviate postural fatigue.
4) Take breaks – driving is tiring work and to avoid driver fatigue and minimize postural discomfort it is good take to fairly frequent rest breaks that allow you to stand up and move around.
5) Seat accessories – you can choose a variety of car seat accessories that may improve seat comfort for you, from fleece covers to soften the seat to bead backrests to provide for some kind of back massage while you drive. Choose whatever you find adds to your driving comfort.
Being trapped in traffic can be more than a pain in your ass: Back problems are a common side effect of long hours on the road.
Unlike the sensation you get while slumped over in an office chair, your body feels a lot of different forces in a car, from accelerations, side-to-side swaying, and vibrations, says Alan Hedge, Ph.D., C.P.E. professor of ergonomics at Cornell University.
This vibration of the spine pushes on the discs between your vertebrae—the cushions that act as shock absorbers and allow spinal movement—which can cause mechanical damage to the disks, Hedge says. “There is evidence that the combination of these factors, coupled with the design of the car seat itself, can increase the chance of back problems for some people.” (And roughly 80 percent of guys share those problems. For fast relief, here’s how to Fight Aches and Pains with the Best Lower-Back Exercises.)
So how does your lumbar region stand a chance if both physical forces and your vehicle’s design team up against you? Work with what you do have control over: your car’s comfort features.
Adjust your chair’s back to 100 degrees and the seat bottom 5 degrees upward, advises Douglas Krebs, D.C., a chiropractic orthopedist in Chicago. While 130 degrees is the ideal position for your back, this slightly narrower positioning allows you to rest your neck against the padding and still see the road.
Most cars don’t have enough lumbar support, so it helps to roll up a sweatshirt and place it behind the small of your back. You neck, hips, and back work like cogwheels, so if you turn one part, the others will also move, Krebs says.
“If you keep a healthy curve in your lower back to decrease pressure on your lumbar disks, everything else will fall into place,” he says.
(Block more driving-related aches with these 16 Ways to Pain-Proof Your Daily Commute.)
Since your feet are at work pressing the pedals, they aren’t being used to stabilize your lower body as they would if you were sitting in a chair, Hedge says. Keep your left foot firmly on the floor, and if you’re on cruise control, press both shoes into the ground so your thighs and shins form a 90 degree angle.
If you’re driving for longer than 20 minutes, adjust your seat a few inches or so to change the forces a little bit and decrease the constant load on your spine, says Krebs. Trapped on the turnpike for an hour or more? Stop and stretch as often as you can, he says.
Now that we’ve positioned you like a mannequin, be aware of the bad habits that only keep your chiropractor in business. Many men slouch or keep their seat too far back, forcing them to reach for the steering wheel, which is not ideal, says Krebs. Keeping your wallet in your back pocket can also cause an asymmetry of the hips, which misaligns your spine, Hedge says.
(For more tips to help you feel better, here are 7 Strategies to Eliminate Back Pain.)
7 Tips to Alleviate Back Pain on Your Road Trips
When you have back pain, riding in the car for an hour or more can be a real challenge. Consider the following advice and see if it helps on your next road trip.
Get out of the car and stretch often to keep you back happier during road trips.
See: Stretching for Back Pain Relief
1. Get comfortable immediately
Take the time to make sure you’re comfortable from the moment you set off on your trip. The smallest irritant in the beginning of your trip can turn into raging pain later.
- Keep your back pockets empty. Sitting on your wallet, phone, or anything else may throw your spine out of alignment.
- Sit up straight with your knees slightly higher than your hips, and keep your chin pulled in so that your head sits straight on top of your spine.
See Posture to Straighten Your Back
- Sit a comfortable distance from the steering wheel. For airbag safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises sitting with your breastbone at least 10 inches from the steering wheel,1 and keeping your hands on the wheel at 9 and 3 (the sides rather than the top of the wheel).2 But don’t sit too far away either, which can cause you to reach too far for wheel and places more stress on the lumbar spine, neck, shoulder, and wrists.
See Office Chair, Posture, and Driving Ergonomics
- Keep your back aligned against the back of your seat. To better support the contour of the inward curve in your lower back, use a small pillow or roll up a scarf and place it between your lower back and the seat. Also, there are many specialized cushions and pillows that can help with sciatica pain and lower back pain.
See Types of Lumbar Support and Ergonomic Office Chairs
There is no single best option, and it may take some effort and trial and error on your part to find what works best for you.
2. Make your ride as smooth as possible
Bumps in the road can jar your spine and increase pain. For a smoother ride, consider:
- Riding in a passenger car, rather than an SUV or pickup
- Replacing worn shocks to limit the bounce in the car
- Replacing worn tires to reduce vibration or shaking
- Sitting on a car seat pillow or coccyx cushion to provide more padding between you and the road
See Pain-Free Travel Tips
3. Get out and move around
Sitting in one position in a car will stiffen up your back muscles and can lead to achiness and possibly muscle spasm. Everyone should ideally take at least a 15-minute break for every 2 hours of driving. If you’re prone to back pain, you may want to take breaks more frequently, such as every 30 to 60 minutes.
Watch Video: What Is Your Back Muscle Spasm Telling You?
Try to plan ahead to schedule stops. Get out of the car so you can move around and stretch. Movement stimulates blood circulation, which brings nutrients and oxygen to your lower back.
Watch 4 Easy Stretches for Lower Back Pain Video
4. Shift your position periodically
When possible, try to move a little in your seat. Even 10 seconds of movement and stretching is better than sitting still. At a minimum adjust your seat and change your position slightly every 15 to 20 minutes. Pump your ankles to keep the blood flowing and provide a slight stretch in your hamstring muscles. Any movement that is safe to do in the car will help you out.
See Specific Hamstring Stretches for Back Pain Relief
5. Try cold or heat therapy
Many people find that applying cold or heat therapy is a good way to alleviate pain on a long road trip.
- Cold therapy can help reduce inflammation and swelling. Consider bringing a cooler to store reusable ice packs or other cold therapy packs. You can buy cold therapy packs at the store or make your own.
See Ice Packs for Back Pain Relief
- Heat therapy can help increase blood flow and relax the muscles. Various types of heat therapy are available to buy, such as heat wraps or heat pads. You can also make your own moist heat pack. Some people prefer to place a moist heat pack in the microwave so it’s warm when they go on the trip.
See How to Apply Heat Therapy
It is recommended to apply ice or heat for only 15 or 20 minutes at a time, then give your skin a rest to recover for at least a couple hours before the next application.
For drivers, it may be best to apply cold or heat therapy while taking a break from driving. Since you are unable to check the skin while driving, it is harder to ensure that the skin is not being damaged during an application of cold or heat therapy. Some cars have heated seats that provide continuous low-level heat, which can be a good option while driving if it is comfortable and provides relief.
6. Support your back with your feet
Supporting your spine starts with bottom-up leverage from your feet. Your feet need to be placed on a firm surface and at the right height to avoid transferring stress to your lower back. It is ideal to have your knees at a right angle. This means, if your seat is too high it is best to put your feet on a footrest. If you are the driver and have the ability to use cruise control for a longer drive, you may want to do this to allow you to have both feet on the floor for periods of time.
See Good Posture Helps Reduce Back Pain
7. Employ diversions from pain
Having something planned to take your mind off the pain could make a big difference. Even if you’re the driver, there are still a few options to safely help occupy your mind. Try a new music channel, download a podcast, or listen to an audio book.
Passengers have many additional choices, such as meditating, reading, watching a show, solving a sudoku or crossword puzzle, or playing an electronic game.
If you know that long car rides give your back trouble, you may want to consider taking an over-the-counter NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) right before the trip to reduce the risk of back pain developing or worsening. Some examples of NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Just remember to check with your doctor first and read warning labels carefully to reduce the risk of serious side effects or complications.
See Common NSAIDs for Back and Neck Pain
Try out these tips and see what works for you. Hopefully at least some of these tips help reduce your back pain while on the road.
29 Best Travel Tips for Your Aching Back
9 Quick Back Pain Tips for Airplane Rides
- 1.Air Bags. United States Department of Transportation, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Website. https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/air-bags. Accessed August 29, 2019.
- 2.Using Efficient Steering Techniques. United States Department of Transportation, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Website. https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/steeringtechniques.pdf. Accessed August 29, 2019.
8 Tips to Manage Back Pain While Driving
“Road trip” can mean different things to different people. It may mean dropping everything and following where the highway leads, or hitting the road for work, yet again. Or, it may mean family time and hearing “Are we there yet?” more times than you can count. But when you have back pain, it may mean a difficult and uncomfortable time could be in store for you.
Sitting in the car in the same position for a long period of time can trigger back pain. If you’re a passenger, you may be able to make yourself comfortable or take medications for back pain relief. But if you’re behind the wheel, you don’t have that choice — especially if you drive for a living. A study published in May 2015 in the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health found that people who are frequently exposed to whole-body vibrations — such as from occupational driving — have double the risk of experiencing low back pain and sciatica than people who are not.
People who commute to work by car or spend a fair amount of time on the road each day may also experience pain while driving. Diane Penna, a freelance writer in Pollock Pines, California, has been living with back pain for many years, and says driving is something she can’t avoid when she needs to go somewhere. “Sitting is definitely one thing that hurts my back if I have to do it for an extended amount of time,” she says.
How to Prevent Back Pain on the Road
So how do you cover long distances if your back doesn’t cooperate? Try these tips to make the journey easier:
- Use lumbar support. It can be something simple, like a rolled-up towel or a cushion specifally designed for support. Just be sure it’s properly placed at the small of the back, at about belt level.
- Move your seat forward. It helps to get as close to the steering wheel as you can without becoming uncomfortable. Being this close prevents you from slouching, and also keeps you from straining to reach the pedals. Your knees should not be higher than your hips.
- Angle your seat. The back of your seat should be adjusted to an angle of about 100 to 110 degrees to allow you to sit properly.
- Go cruising. If your car has cruise control, use it — if it’s safe to do so. This allows you to put both feet on the floor for short periods and distribute your weight more evenly.
- Stretch it out. Stop as often as you can, preferably every half hour or so, to get out of the car and stretch.
- Ice it down. If you still have back pain while driving, stop for a stretch and put an ice pack against your back when you’re sitting. Ice packs help relieve back pain by numbing the area and reducing inflammation. There are disposable/portable ice and heat packs available for purchase, so if you have a few on hand, you can alternate heat and cold every 20 minutes or so.
- Adjust your steering wheel grip. Researchers have looked into the best way to position yourself at the steering wheel if you have back pain. It used to be that new drivers were taught to hold their steering wheel at the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions. But, with the advent of airbags, research has found that your hands should be at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. This allows you to rest your elbows on the armrests, which can help ease pain, especially in the upper back.
- Heat your seat. Penna recommends another approach that helps her manage her back pain. While she will take half of a pain reliever tablet if she has to, she says, “I’m also thankful my new vehicle has heated seats, so I will turn them on if my back begins to spasm (even in the summer).” Heat can help with relieve pain by relaxing tight joints and muscles, decreasing the transmission of pain signals to the brain, and bringing more blood to the area (the flow of oxygen and nutrients that can help heal potentially damaged tissue). If your car doesn’t have heated seats, many stores sell heated seat covers that can be placed on the driver’s seat.
Best Lumbar Support for Cars: Our Top Picks for Comfort
Benefits of Lumbar Support for Cars
- Increased comfort. Long road trips can be a pain in the lower and upper back. Lumbar support for your car seat can raise the comfort level up a few notches, making your everyday commute easier, too.
- Pain relief. Driving for long hours can cause strain and stress on your lower back. To reduce and, in some cases, even eliminate your back pain, choose a lumbar support cushion that works for you.
- Better posture. Have you ever noticed that it’s easy to start slouching when you’re driving? A well-designed, high-quality lumbar support cushion can help you improve your posture over time.
- Stress relief. Small aches and pains can add to your overall stress level. The improved comfort of your car seat can make those little nuisances melt away, keeping stress at bay.
Types of Lumbar Support for Cars
Portable Lumbar Support
A compact and overall common choice, these cushions are small enough to be portable and big enough to make a difference in how your back feels when you’re sitting for long periods of time. The two most common designs are the u-shape and the wedge, both of which are great choices if you need your lumbar support to be portable.
Adjustable Lumbar Support
If you’re in need of something a little more high-powered, you’ll want an adjustable lumbar support cushion that can be made to fit the unique lines of your back. These are attached to your headrest via elastic straps, hanging down the length of your seat back. Typically the most ergonomic option, this type of lumbar support is great if you have chronic back problems.
Headquartered in Hong Kong, Samsonite is a global brand that is mainly focused on manufacturing luggage and travel accessories. Recently, the company has expanded to include seat cushions as well, creating a couple of offerings that are suitable for both car and airplane. One top product is the SA5447 Memory Foam Support.
Perhaps best known for their tires, Goodyear has expanded to cover a wide array of different car-related needs. Based in Akron, Ohio, the company has been making quality gear for decades, including a number of in-car accessories. One of its most popular products is the GY1015 Full Size Support Pillow.
An internet-based company, Everlasting comfort is one of the biggest manufacturers of automotive seat cushions. Offerings include a wide variety of different lumbar support cushions that are great for relieving back pain associated with car rides. One of its best sellers is the Everlasting Comfort 100% Pure Memory Foam Back Cushion.
Lumbar Support Pricing
- Under $30: At this price point, you can find a variety of different lumbar support options, ranging from wedges and pillows to full-back cushions. The catch is that the quality does vary a lot, making it a bit hit and miss. That being said, there are a small number of really good options available at this price point.
- $30-$50: You’ll find lots of different cushions at this price point, in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and levels of support. Most products in this price range are well-crafted and made from durable materials that can stand up to dozens of road trips.
- Over $50: The high-end includes lots of specialty options and high-grade materials like leather and suede. Memory foam, soft-core foam, and a couple of other support options make these some of the most comfortable cushions on the market.
Lumbar support cushions are available in a wide range of sizes. You’ll want to find one that best suits your needs. To do that, take into consideration how often you’ll use it and how much support you want. On top of that, keep in mind that chronic back pain benefits from always using lumbar support, so you’ll want something extra durable if you find yourself in this category.
Material is a critical component of a good lumbar support cushion. You’ll want something durable that is able to retain its shape even with hours of frequent use. If you live somewhere hot, you’ll definitely want to make sure that the material is somewhat breathable so that it feels comfortable temperature-wise.
Many lumbar support cushions come with straps or other types of fasteners to keep them from sliding around during use. That will keep them in place and able to do their job well. The last thing you want is a lumbar support cushion that is nowhere near the place it needs to be to work effectively. Also, keep in mind that adjustable straps mean customizable support. In other words, you’ll be able to place the cushion exactly where you need the lumbar support.
- Compatibility: Car interiors vary widely, and that includes the size and shape of the seats. A lumbar support cushion that works really well in an SUV probably won’t work as well in a compact car, just because the seat is smaller. Keep that in mind when you’re choosing between sizes.
- Comfort: A lumbar support cushion needs to be comfortable, first and foremost. Make sure that the cushion you choose feels good and is the appropriate size and shape for your back
- Covers: If you’ve got anything but a mesh seat cushion, you’ll want to make sure that it has a removable cover. The benefit here is that if spills do happen, or other dirt ever gets onto your support cushion, you can easily clean it.
8 Simple Stretches to Relieve Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain can be a debilitating and painful condition.
Fortunately, staying physically active may be the most effective and cost-efficient way to soothe or prevent it.
Here are 8 simple stretches to relieve lower back pain.
Lower back pain is common
Lower back pain affects up to 80% of all people at one time or another (1, 2, 3).
Although its origin varies, changes in the lumbar, or lower back, structure due to musculoskeletal damage are considered to be the main cause (4).
Your musculoskeletal system is made up of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues that provide form, support, stability, and movement to your body.
Other muscles that play an important role in maintaining the normal curvature of your spinal column are reported to be associated with lower back pain. These include the hip flexor and hamstring muscles (5).
Minor lower back pain normally gets better on its own within a few days or weeks. It can be considered chronic when it persists for more than three months (6).
In either case, staying physically active and regularly stretching can help reduce lower back pain or prevent it from returning (7, 8, 9, 10).
The remainder of this article provides eight stretches for lower back pain, all of which you can do in the comfort of your own home with minimal or no equipment.
Summary Lower back pain is an incredibly common condition that can be relieved or prevented with regular exercise and stretching.
The knee-to-chest stretch can help lengthen your lower back, relieving tension and pain.
To perform the knee-to-chest stretch:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Using both hands, grab hold of your right lower leg and interlace your fingers, or clasp your wrists just under the knee.
- While keeping your left foot flat on the floor, gently pull your right knee up to your chest until you feel a slight stretch in your lower back.
- Hold your right knee against your chest for 30–60 seconds, making sure to relax your legs, hips, and lower back.
- Release your right knee and return to the starting position.
- Repeat steps 2–4 with your left leg.
- Repeat three times for each leg.
To make this stretch more difficult, simultaneously bring both of your knees to your chest for 15–20 seconds. Do this 3 times, separated by 30 seconds of rest.
Summary Perform the knee-to-chest stretch by lying on your back and pulling and then holding one or both knees to your chest.
2. Trunk rotation
The trunk rotation stretch can help relieve tension in your lower back. It also works your core muscles, including your abdominals, back muscles, and the muscles around your pelvis.
To perform the trunk rotation stretch:
- Lie on your back and bring your knees up toward your chest so your body is positioned as if you’re sitting in a chair.
- Fully extend your arms out to the sides, with your palms face-down on the floor.
- Keeping your knees together and hands on the floor, gently roll both bent knees over to your right side and hold for 15–20 seconds.
- Return to the starting position and repeat step 3 on your left side, again holding for 15–20 seconds.
- Repeat 5–10 times on each side.
Summary Perform the trunk rotation stretch by keeping your knees together up toward your chest, gently rolling your knees to each side, and holding the position.
3. Cat-cow stretch
The cat-cow stretch is a useful exercise to help increase flexibility and ease tension in your lower back and core muscles.
To perform the cat-cow stretch:
- Get onto your hands and knees with your knees hip-width apart. This is the starting position.
- Arch your back by pulling your belly button up toward your spine, letting your head drop forward. This is the cat portion of the stretch.
- Hold for 5–10 seconds. You should feel a gentle stretch in your lower back.
- Return to the starting position.
- Raise your head up and let your pelvis fall forward, curving your back down toward the floor. This is the cow portion of the stretch.
- Hold for 5–10 seconds, then return to the starting position.
- Repeat the cat-cow stretch 15–20 times.
You can also perform this exercise in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands on your knees, making it perfect for sneaking in a few stretches at work.
Summary Perform the cat-cow stretch by arching your back for the cat pose, then letting your pelvis fall forward for the cow pose.
4. Pelvic tilt
The pelvic tilt exercise is a simple yet effective way to release tight back muscles and maintain their flexibility.
To perform the pelvic tilt:
- Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat, and arms by your sides. The natural curvature of your spine will lift your lower back slightly off the floor.
- Gently arch your lower back and push your stomach out, stabilizing your core.
- Hold for 5–10 seconds, then relax.
- Push your pelvis slightly up toward the ceiling (your pelvis should not leave the floor) while tightening your abdominal and buttock muscles. In doing so, you should feel your lower back pressing into the floor.
- Hold for 5–10 seconds, then relax.
- Start with 10–15 repetitions daily, building up to 25–30.
Summary Flatten your back against the floor by tightening your abdominal muscles and tilting your pelvis toward the ceiling.
5. Seat forward bend
Tight hamstrings — the muscles located at the back of your thighs — are thought to be a common contributor to lower back pain and injuries (11, 12, 13, 14).
The seat forward bend stretches the hamstring muscles to relieve tightness and release tension in your spine.
To perform the seat forward bend:
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Hook a standard bath towel around the bottoms of your feet at the heels.
- Gently bend forward at your hips, bringing your belly down to your thighs.
- Keeping your back straight, grab the towel to help you bring your belly closer to your legs.
- Stretch until you feel mild tension in the back of your legs and lower back.
- Hold for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and repeat 3 times.
You can increase or decrease the tension of this stretch by grabbing the towel closer or farther from your feet.
As you become more flexible over time, you can increase how long you hold the stretch, or reduce the time between stretches.
Summary While seated on the floor with your legs extended, hook a towel around the bottom of your heels and use it to pull yourself forward and stretch your hamstring and lower back muscles.
6. Flexion rotation
The flexion rotation exercise helps stretch your lower back and buttocks.
To perform the flexion rotation exercise:
- Lie on your right side with both legs straight.
- Bend your left leg, hooking your foot behind your right knee.
- Grasp your left knee with your right arm.
- Place your left hand behind your neck.
- Slowly rotate your upper body backwards by touching your left shoulder blade to the floor. You should feel a mild stretch in your lower back.
- Repeat the rotation stretch 10 times, holding each stretch for 1–3 seconds before slowly moving out of the rotation.
- Repeat steps 1–6 on your left side.
Summary With your leg bent and foot hooked around your other knee, slowly rotate your upper body backwards by touching your shoulder blade to the floor until you feel a mild stretch in your lower back.
7. Supported bridge
Use a foam roller or firm cushion to perform the supported bridge. It helps decompress your lower back through supported elevation.
To perform the supported bridge:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Lift your hips and place a foam roller or firm cushion underneath them.
- Completely relax your body into the support of the floor and the foam roller or firm cushion.
- Hold for 30–60 seconds and repeat 3–5 times, resting 30–60 seconds between sets.
You can increase the stretch in your lower back by extending one or both legs from their bent position.
Summary After positioning a foam roller or firm pillow underneath your hips, relax your entire body.
8. Belly flops
Similarly to the supported bridge exercise, the belly flop exercise uses a rolled towel to decompress your lower back through supported elevation.
To perform the belly flop:
- Roll up a towel or blanket lengthwise and place it horizontally in front of you.
- Lie front-side down over the towel or blanket so that your hip bones are pressing into it.
- Completely relax your body. You can turn your head to either side.
- Stay in this position for 1–2 minutes and repeat 1–3 times, resting 30–60 seconds between sets.
Summary Lie front-side down on a rolled-up towel or blanket that’s positioned under your hip bones and relax your entire body.
Lower back pain is a painful condition that affects many people.
Regular physical activity and stretching are proven ways to help reduce lower back pain and prevent it from returning.
The trunk rotation, pelvic tilt, and supported bridge are just a few exercises that will help soothe lingering lower back pain.
Best Cars to Buy for People with Bad Backs: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide
More economical are the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia. Built on the same platform these vehicles have accommodating seats and amenable ride quality.
The Worst Vehicles for Bad Backs
While large vehicles are fashionable, especially if you have a family, Shapiro advises that you avoid vehicles that are high off of the ground, like large SUVs and some pickup trucks, if you have chronic back pain.
“Look for cars that are not too high – like tall pick up’s that require you to climb in and out of. When your back is flared up, it can be difficult to get in and out of a vehicle that is too high. This can cause stress on your back,” he said.
Back pain sufferers should not plan zipping around in a sports car. The close-fitting bucket seats keep drivers in place during twists and turns when for back pain sufferers, being able to move within the seat is key. The deep seats also make pain worse because you crunch your back in these seats, irritating a bad back. Sport cars’ generous side bolstering can be intrusively uncomfortable for a bad back.
“A car that is too low or too small can be really tough to squeeze in and out of. A lot of small cars like Mini’s or low cars like sports cars (Corvette) that have a really low profile can cause you to bend and twist to get in and out of,” said Shapiro.
When eyeing your new ride, keeping back pain at bay means look for less bounce and more seat adjustment options and seat features. And if you drive professionally, or take the occasional long trip, you’ll want to hit those rest stops or small, off-the-highway towns along the way to your destination.
“As for staying comfortable on long trips, experts recommend stopping to stretch your legs every 20-30 minutes. Not only can this help with back and leg pain, but it can also prevent blood clots,” said Carrow.
While it may cost a little more to get a car with the proper features to protect your back and provide you a comfortable commute, you’ll find that every feature you can afford to include will be worth the added expense.
- Excellent lumbar support
- Comes with a strap for attaching it to any chair
- Very supportive and comfortable
- Improves posture especially when seating for longer periods
- None for now
7. ComfySure 3 Piece Seat Cushion Set
This is also another reliable car seat cushion out there and this one is made using one hundred percent memory foam. This three-piece cushion set is aimed at making one seat with comfort and there is also a guarantee that it would offer coccyx and lumbar support alongside armrest pads.
With this car seat cushion, you would feel better immediately as it would eliminate pains, aches and all forms of discomfort which could be caused by all day sitting.
Providing therapy needed all through the day is also what this car seat cushion is capable of and trust that this car seat cushion can be made use of anywhere whether it is in the car, in the office or even at home. For easy cleaning, washing using a washing machine is a great idea its high breathability makes it gets rid of discomfort and sweat.
- Provides comfort
- Has an excellent design
- Comes in a set
- Feels very soft and comfortable
- Goes flat after a while
8. BackJoy Posture Plus
This car seat cushion has an innovative design that offers an effective, safe and natural relief to any pain that is being felt at the back and guess what, it does this just by working to improve the posture of the back. No matter anywhere you sit or what time you sit, this car seat cushion would provide relief to lower back pain, offer lumbar support and also help in correction of the spine while seating in an office environment, in cars and also under any environment.
Now, this is what makes this car seat cushion quite likable, it comes with an EVA foam covering which serves for use both outdoors and indoors. This car seat cushion can be made use of on various types of seats whether they are car seats, office chairs or even on soft and hard surfaces.
Its waterproof covering makes sure it lasts for a long time and for all the lower neck, lumbar, sciatica, spinal, posture and back pain, this car seat cushion would bring relief.
- Offers fast relief
- Designed to provide the back with comfort
- Helps with legs numbness
- Not returnable item
- Doesn’t work as described
9. Uhealer Premium Comfort Seat Cushion
This car seat cushion features no additives but contains one hundred percent original memory foam and with this car seat cushion, leg pain would benefit instant relief while bad posture would be corrected. The way this car seat cushion function is by picking up responses to the heat of the body so as to take the perfect shape of the back and it also possesses a thick foam which is able to cushion and compress in order to provide the back with all the comfort that it deserves.
This is one car seat cushion that is recommended by orthopedic doctors and making use of this car seat cushion helps in eliminating Arthritis, nerve pain, backaches, neck pain, leg pain, pregnancy pain and more.
It has a versatile design that makes it a very good choice for computer chairs, wheelchairs, airplanes, trucks, recliners or even at work or at home. In conclusion, it comes with a black cover that can be washed in a washing machine.
- Highly recommended by professionals
- Can be used in Cars
- Very comfortable and supportive
- Designed to be soft and durable
- This car seat cushion doesn’t retain thickness
10. General Armor Gel Chair Seat Cushion
Featuring a car seat cushion that is made using one hundred percent elastomer material and also with a covering that is also made using one hundred percent polyester material, this is definitely one of the best car seats for bad back ever to find its way to the market.
What makes this car seat cushion special is its advanced column buckling technology which is designed to disperse the weight of the body evenly and as such, getting rid of the pressure that could be found at pressure points.
It is also designed to be durable and resilient and for this reason, losing its support is very impossible which is why it tends to last for a long period of time. It has air channels that promote the flow of air so the back doesn’t have to deal with heat anymore and also, for this reason, there would be extreme comfort all through unlike other low-quality car seats that encourage heating which leads to discomfort.
Even though one sits for long periods, as far as this car seat cushion is involved, the back would enjoy comfort for as long as they seat.
- Everywhere becomes significantly comfortable
- Eliminates tailbone pressure
- Worth every penny spent on it
- Has a clever design
- Not as thick as expected
Cushions for Back Pain Buying Guide
Img Source: rev.com.sg
Finding a good car seat cushion for bad back is not as easy as it sounds and even though these car seat cushions are quite affordable, one needs to make sure he is getting the best out of any product that he decides to settle for. However, the following points should be taken into consideration when considering what car seat cushion for bad back product to settle for.
Style Of Car Seat Cushion
Every car seat cushion has its own unique style so before making a payment for any car seat cushion, ensure you have good knowledge of whatever style you are going for. Some common styles that one would easily encounter are the wedges, inflatable and memory foam styles.
The type of material used also determines the amount of comfort and durability that one would get out of what he or she settles for so the material used is also a very important factor that should be considered when shopping for the best car seat cushion for a bad back. Inner and outer material should be considered carefully.
When shopping for a car seat cushion, the size of what you want to go for also matters that is why you need to go for a car seat cushion that would be ideal for your weight and height. You should also go for a car seat cushion that would properly and perfectly be ideal for your car seat.
One reason why people opt for car seat cushions is for the sake of comfort so if a car seat cushion would not be offering you comfort that you desire then there would be no need going for such product. Car seat cushions with a sponge or thick foam are products that you can trust to offer you the required comfort.
Having back pains and other forms of body illness are things that can hinder a person from enjoying comfort while driving and these pains can be unbearable while driving for long hours.
Even though these back conditions might require going to the hospital, finding one of the best car seats for bad back is one way of getting relief from any such pain. With our top 10 car seat cushion for back pain, you would not waste too much time while shopping for one on the market.
Back pain ‘driving’ you mad?
Back pain and driving
Do you experience back pain while driving? This is a fairly common complaint regardless of if you regularly suffer from back pain or not. It is particularly common in people who drive longer distances to work (over half an hour) or people who drive as part of their jobs such as postal workers, delivery drivers or lorry drivers. It can make driving long distances, well, a pain in the back.
To help you out, I’ve compiled a list of tips to reduce back pain when driving.
11 tips to reduce back pain while driving
Here are my 11 tips to alleviate back pain while driving:
- Get comfortable before you start the journey. Many of today’s tips are best employed at the beginning of the journey, as a small irritation can quickly grow to unbearable pain. Take a few moments to settle into a comfortable posture, check your mirrors and adjust the seat – this is particularly important if you share your car as these things may have been changed by another driver.
- Make sure your mirrors are adjusted so you do not have to move or twist to see them. Generally, you should only have to move your eyes to be able to see out of your mirrors. If you adjust your mirrors while sitting up straight, then if you begin to slouch you’ll lose vision in the mirrors, which will act as a reminder to sit up
- Adjust the seat so you are almost sitting straight with only a slight recline – most people recommend a 100 degree angle. If you recline it too far your head will not be able to comfortably rest against the head rest which can cause tension in the neck and upper back
- Roll up a towel and place it behind your lower back for additional support, as car seats often do not support the natural curve of your back
- Don’t keep a phone or wallet in your back pocket as this can slightly misalign your spine. It may not seem noticeable or significant at first, but over time it can cause or worsen back pain while driving
- Stop regularly (around every hour) to move around and stretch. Try some gentle twists, or reach down to touch your toes. To stretch your lower back, bend your knees a little while reaching for the ground, and aim to touch your knees with your chest. To relieve neck and shoulder pain, try shrugging and rolling your shoulders and rolling your neck from side to side
- Back pain while driving can often be caused by the vibration of the car, or the jolting and bouncing of the car as it goes over bumps. To reduce this, use a cushion specially designed for car seats which will act as a shock absorber. Keeping your car in good condition, in particular its shock absorbers and tyres, will also give you a smoother, more comfortable drive
- Take a cold pack or heat pack with you, depending on which one is best for your back pain. A cold pack could simply be an ice pack wrapped in a towel, or you could buy an instant ice pack from your pharmacy or heath store which can be kept in the car until you need them. Some heat packs can be plugged into the cigarette socket in your car to provide constant heat. Alternatively, if your car has heated seats, use these to keep your muscles warm during the journey
- If your car has cruise control, use this when you can. While using this, place your feet on the floor so your legs form a 90 degree angle and gently push them down into the floor. This will help naturally support your spine
- Use a herbal remedy to soothe your back pain. We recommend Atrogel, an arnica gel designed for muscle aches and pains. Just rub a little on the affected area for relief from back pain for the duration of your journey. For long term back pain, try Devil’s Claw which, when taken every day, helps reduce back pain, muscle ache and joint pain
- Add regular exercise into your lifestyle to strengthen your back muscles and release tension. Cardio exercises like running or swimming are great for overall fitness, and weights are great for improving muscle strength. You can also try these exercises for back pain to specifically target problem areas.
For more information on back pain, such as causes and treatments, head over to A.Vogel Talks Back Pain, where you’ll also find blog posts and my Q&A service.