Bad Back Caused by Driving

Commuting today often means that people are spending more and more time stuck in traffic jams and queues. And with more traffic, the increase in joint and back pain from driving has seen a huge increase in chiropractic treatments for the frequent driver’s back problems.

According to research by inrix, UK drivers are spending more time than ever stuck in traffic jams. In 2014, the average driver wasted 30 hours stuck in traffic jams with London being the worse at an incredible 96 hours in one year! This brings us to the 5th worst country for traffic jams.

With that in mind, what can we do to protect ourselves from the injuries of sitting so long at the wheel? Here are a few of our tips:

Sitting position

Ensure that your seat is set to your comfort, not how your other half left it. The seat back should be slightly inclined and the elbows bent at a comfortable angle. You shouldn’t be too far back that you need to stretch to reach the steering wheel. The headrest should remain to protect your neck in case of an accident and should just touch the back of your head but not push it forwards.


Your feet should reach the pedals comfortably enough so as to avoid moving the leg excessively, you should be able to press the pedals by moving from the ankle. Avoid wearing heels or thick soled footwear as this will cause you to over extend the ankle when pushing on the accelerator etc.

Buying a new car?

A vehicle that keeps you in a seated position ie knees bent and sat upright is better for your posture than a lower vehicle where your legs remain outstretched.
Watch the leather seats… Luxury but can cause you to slide off your sit bones.

Steering wheel

Your arms should fall naturally at the steering wheel with a slight bend in the arms. Too far away? You will need to stretch forward to reach the wheel, placing excessive stress on the neck, shoulders and upper back. Too close to the wheel? You won’t have enough room to manoeuvre especially quickly in the event of an accident or hazard. Keep a firm but relaxed grip on the steering wheel, not too hard!


Again, check these are suited to your height and posture which can change even if there’s only you that drives the car. Patients often readjust their mirrors post treatment as they sit more upright!


You may need to adjust the height of your seatbelt, again especially if someone else has used the vehicle before you. The belt should not rub your neck and should comfortable rest across your shoulder down to your opposite hip.

We know it’s obvious but….

Try and relax! There are plenty drivers out there who seem to be out to test us but don’t let it stress you out as your mind will not be focused on the road ahead and all of its hazards. Keep your phone out of temptations reach and try and plan for your journey ahead, particularly if it’s a long journey, around weekends or holidays ….. Or around London! Or perhaps just take the train!

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Wokingham Chiropractor
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