7 tips to prevent back pain while driving

7 Tips to prevent back pain while driving

As August draws to a close many people are preparing to drive home again and long distance driving often results in back pain.

Lowered, tipped back seats make the legs too straight, placing strain on the hamstrings, pelvis and lower back. The neck then tilts forward to look “straight ahead”.

A recent survey found that male drivers tend to sit with legs fully extended straining the back muscles and women tend to sit too close to the wheel, tightening back muscles.

So here are my top tips for staying comfortable while driving:

Are you straight?

With your hands in prayer position they should be in the centre of the steering wheel. Now place both hands on the steering wheel at “10” and “2” – you should see equal amounts of both legs.

Enough head room?

You should be able to comfortably place a fist on top of your head

Check your right leg

After driving for a short while put your hands on the steering wheel and look down again. Is your right leg level with your left?

Check your wallet

If you carry your wallet or phone in a back pocket this changes the position of your hips.

Check your left leg

Do you float your left leg above the pedal? This can cause muscle fatigue in the leg as well as strain in your ankles.

How’s your seat?

Get a small cushion or rolled up towel and apply gentle pressure at waist height. Your elbows should be gently bent with hands on the steering wheel and your back and thighs entirely against the seat.


Getting stressed can increase muscle tension. Every time you stop for a traffic light inhale and lift your shoulders high, then exhale and drop them down. On long journeys try and stop every 1 or 2 hours and walk.

Apply an ice pack to the lower back for 10 minutes after a long journey to help relieve pain.

Or book a Free 15 minute telephone consultation to find out how we can help.

7 myths about back pain by Estelle Mitchell Consultant Physiotherpist at Bodyworks Clinic Marbella

7 things your doctor didn’t tell you about back pain

Complete the form below to get Estelle’s simple free guide to resolving back pain.


  • Cassandra Surette

    December 4, 2015, 11:22 am

    I really enjoyed reading your blog, you have lots of great content. I look forward to reading more posts from you.

    • Estelle Mitchell

      April 26, 2016, 1:00 pm

      Thanks Cassandra! Glad you’re enjoying it. Just let me know if you have any questions I can help to answer.

  • Stephen Adams

    December 17, 2015, 4:48 am

    That’s a good, simple tip about the wallet. I think I’ll just start carrying mine in my front pocket. I tend to collect a lot of business cards, so it gets big. I don’t want my commute to be painful anymore.

  • Sarah Anderson

    March 28, 2016, 6:47 pm

    Driving can cause a lot of back pain if you are sitting incorrectly. I would highly suggest trying to follow these tips, because having to deal with the pain is not pleasant. You can always go to a physiotherapist to help take care of it, I have heard nothing but good things from those who have.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.