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Driving Back Pain

  • Driving: Back Pain & Stiffness

    Long commutes can give you more than just stress and road rage, sitting for hours daily in traffic can result in back pain due to the sitting in your car for long hours on the road. Mix traffic-related tension and poor driving posture, and it’s no wonder your back, shoulders, and neck are a sore, knotty mess.

    Back Pain and Driving  The average American commuter spends at least 2 hours a week behind the wheel according to a Texas A&M University study. For some driving a motorized vehicle is also their job: truck drivers, bus drivers, ambulance and fire   trucks, police or Uber/Lyft drivers.

    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.


    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.

    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."

    • Driving for prolonged periods of time, the lumbar curve is all but lost, placing extra strain on the vertebrae and discs.
    • The spine is subjected to considerable vibration and jolting.
    • Modern cars have a lower roof line and so reduced internal space. To allow this the seat is often lowered and tipped back which causes the legs to be straighter, placing strain on the hamstrings, in turn pulling on their pelvic attachments and resulting in the pelvis rolling backwards.
    • Strain is also placed on the cervical spine (neck) due to the seat being tipped back and the driver having to flex the neck by up to 20 degrees in order to look straight ahead
    • 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.
    • Chair Position: Adjust your chair’s back to 100 degrees and the seat bottom 5 degrees upward. 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.
    • Lumbar Support: Most cars don’t have enough lumbar support. Roll up a sweatshirt and place it behind the small of your back. Your neck, hips, and back work like cogwheels, so if you turn one part, the others will also move. Keep a curve in your lower back to decrease pressure on your lumbar disks.
    • Don’t Slouch or keep your seat too far back, forcing you to reach for the steering wheel, which is not ideal.
    • Remove your Wallet From your Back Pocket which causes asymmetry of the hips and misaligns your spine.
    • Stretch it out: Stop as often as you can, preferably every half hour or so, to get out of the car and stretch.


    Posture Pump® PentaVec® Model 2500 is a very effective treatment for lower back pain and stiffness. With your lower back gradually lifting with air and expanding into proper posture, use your feet to push up and out with the decompression pedal to gently stretch open and hydrate painful joints, compressed discs and irritated nerves. The PentaVec® rapidly gets to the cause of disc compression and allows you to carefully stretch out painful back stiffness at your own pace.

    • Expanding Ellipsoidal Decompression (EED®) gently molds your lower spine into proper posture while nutrient rich fluid is drawn back into the discs as they expand (imbibition). The PentaVec® lifts and expands the lumbar spine while the sacrum and pelvis are rotated up and translated away.  The feeling is one of lightness and freedom from monotonous compressive coiling in the lower discs and joints. The PentaVec® delivers 5 simultaneous force vectors into the lower spine and cannot be manually duplicated.

    Posture Pump® shapes, decompresses, and hydrates compressed discs and joints in the cervical and lumbar spine. This is vital to maintaining good posture and to alleviate the symptoms caused by back conditions and provides relief for the root cause of back pain and stiffness!  Check out more details on our Back Pain Products and Neck Pain Products.

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