Driving across the country can be an awesome adventure. You've got your hotels and restaurants to try in new cities planned, but do you have an appointment to see your chiropractor when you finally reach your destination? Spending long hours in a car can put unique stress on the legs, spine, and neck. As these areas become misaligned, you'll find that it's more difficult to sleep and that daily activities are more difficult for you to complete. Fortunately, you can help save your neck and back by employing a few habits while on the road.
How does driving affect the body?
Throughout the drive, your shoulders will slump forward and your back will begin to curve, which will put uncreased pressure on the hips joints. You'll start to feel soreness through the pelvic area. In order to relief the discomfort, drivers may move their seats further back to let the legs stretch out further. However, this is like robbing Peter to pay Paul, because more stress is placed on the lower back. The lumbar area will begin to ache, making you want to sit up straighter, overarching the spine. However, the body will soon tire of sitting straight, as the seat does not naturally augment posture, and the cycle will begin again.
What can you do to drive without pain?
1. Sit right. There are special bones that are best for sitting; the sitz bones. You can engage these bones by making sure that pelvis is always tucked underneath your abs. Yes, that means that your seat should not be in a recline position as you drive. You can also make sure your pelvis stays properly situated by moving the seat as close to the gas and brake as you comfortably can. Your legs should be tucked under your seat for the most part. If you're driving, use cruise control if conditions allow.
2. Back up your back. If your seat doesn't have good lumbar support, try to add in support by buying a supportive seat cover or by purchasing a memory foam pillow that will form to the natural curve of your spine. Keep it behind your back as you drive.
3. Don't over-do the support. It's important to have support for the lower back, but it's also important not to over-curve the spine. Over-curving compresses the vertebrae. It can be tempting to arch the back if you have been slouching for a while. However, if you are sitting right, as suggested in tip number one, you won't feel the need.
4. Keep your core tight. Most people think of good posture as keep the shoulders back and the chest tight. However, this is not best for your back. When you take your seat in the car, remember to drop the shoulders down-- flexing the shoulders while keeping them back is one the main causes of neck pain during a drive. Concentrate on relaxing the rib cage while keeping the abs engaged. Your abs-- not your chest and upper back-- will provide the support you need for you back without putting undue stress on your chest and shoulder muscles.
5. Stretch. Whenever you stop for gas or to use the bathroom, don't just quickly stretch out before heading out. Spend several minutes touching your toes, stretching your neck from side to side, rolling your shoulders back, and stretching the abs with stretched side to side, because your abs will be tired if they are not conditioned.
You can keep your back, neck, and legs from experiencing the ailments of a long drive by making sure that you sit right and stretch what's tight. Make sure you see a chiropractor after a extended time in the driver's seat, to just to make sure that nothing is out of alignment.