Back Pain and Safety on the Road
Road safety and health: Learn about your health
Tips for keeping Your back healthy
The correct ways to move can help to protect your back. If your back has been seriously hurt, the risk of further injury is high, and if it is serious enough, you may struggle with lifelong pain and discomfort.
The best way to prevent lower back pain is to ensure that the muscles surrounding your spine are kept strong. The best exercise is swimming, cycling and walking, and do not need to be performed in a gym. These exercises may also assist in preventing the return of pain in your lower back if you have already injured it.
Here are pointers from the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma (NISMAT) in New York, on how to lift, sit and stand properly:
• Stand close to the object with your feet spread apart, about the width of your shoulders.
• Squat, bending your knees and hips, while keeping your back in proper alignment.
• Contract your stomach muscles.
• Lift with your leg muscles, not your back. Take care not to lift and twist at the same time.
• If you are lifting the object with another person, do it in unison. One person should say when to lift, walk, and unload.
Sitting and standing
Although people can make accommodations for their specific back problem, there are also general rules for proper sitting, standing, and lifting to protect your back.
Tips for standing for a prolonged period of time
• Wear comfortable shoes and stand on a soft surface.
• Bring your work to a comfortable level; do not bend over it.
• Rest one leg on a stool to reduce stress on your back.
• Change your position often.
Tips for when you sit in a chair for extended periods of time
• Sit in a chair that supports your lower back. If the chair does not offer enough support, use a lumbar cushion behind your lower back.
• Position your chair so that your knees are at least as high as your hips when your feet are fl at on the fl oor.
• Your desktop should be slightly above your waist.
• Sit close to your work; do not lean over it.
• Do not slump over while sitting.
• Take frequent breaks to stand up and stretch.
Push, don’t pull
Whenever possible, people should push objects rather than pull, according to Nismat.
If you need to move a piece of furniture, stand close to it, tighten your stomach muscles, and push with both arms. Don’t lean forward and never push or pull with a bent back.
WebMD Feature, reviewed by Louise Chang, MD, on 2 June 2011, World Health Organization.
Prevent back pain while driving!
Professional drivers spend long hours behind the wheel and sitting in the same position for a long time can cause back and neck pain. Here are some simple ways you can care for your back on the road.
Sitting in The Vehicle
- Most vehicles don’t have very well-designed seats – they don’t provide enough support for the lower back, which take a lot of strain as a result.
- Don’t let you back become rounded – it will be most comfortable if the back takes the shape of a slight S-bend, with a shallow hollow behind the waist.
- Don’t poke your chin forward or hunch your shoulders.
- Make sure your seat is in a position where you can keep your knees and elbows slightly bent – being forced to stay straight is not a good idea!
- Make sure your buttocks are against the chair back and that your lower back has as much support as possible.
- Your shoulders should not be hunched – they should be level and relaxed.
Climb out with care!
- Use both your arms to push yourself out of the vehicle.
- Shift one leg out at a time – don’t try to swing both out together.
- Don’t twist, but turn the whole body, and try to keep it as straight as possible.
- When you get back into the vehicle, seat yourself sideways first, and then put in one leg at a time.
Tips for In-Vehicle Exercises
Try not to sit in one position all the time while you’re driving. Take the opportunity to do some gentle exercises that will loosen your muscles:
Neck Exercises at Robot
- When you’re sitting at a robot, gently bend your head to one side, pressing your ear down towards the shoulder. Keep your chin tucked in while you do this – if the chin is pushed forward, this can harm the neck joints and upper back. The aim of this exercise is to stretch the side of the neck, which often stiffens up.
- Turn your head as far to the left as you can, till you’re looking out of the passenger window.
- Do the movements slowly, hold for a second, and repeat. Do the same thing turning your head to the right.
- Slowly lower your chin to touch your collarbone, hold, and raise it. Now lift your head to look at the ceiling of the vehicle; hold it, and return to the eyes-front position.
Stretching Exercises for Drivers
- A regular stop won’t just prevent you falling asleep at the wheel; it’ll also help to keep your spine healthy.
- When you stop for your two-hourly break, stretch your body like a cat.
- Stand firmly, both feet on the ground a little apart. Clasp your hands above your head, turn them inside out, and stretch up as far as you can, so that you feel the stretch right down into your waist. Hold for five seconds. Repeat once or twice.
- Now stretch your back: standing upright, put both hands in the small of back. Stretch your whole body upwards and then slightly backwards.
- Hold this for three seconds.
- You should feel the stretch in your muscles when you do these stretching exercises, but you should never feel pain. If it hurts, stop at once – you are either doing something wrong, or you’ve hurt yourself in some other way.
Other Tips for Safe And Healthy Driving Are:
Never, ever reach back: twisting your body to reach backwards puts it into an unnatural – and very vulnerable – position, especially if you are holding something heavy in your hand. If you have to do something in the back of the vehicle, move your whole body at the same time instead of twisting – move your legs and your torso if you have to turn around. Just be careful not to twist the spine.
Only do your exercises when you are at a standstill or during a pause in your journey – don’t let them take your attention away from the road and the drivers around you.