Every long-term held position is for our body a burden, even though it might seem it not because we are not engaged in any particular physical activity, especially sitting for long periods of time burdens the musculoskeletal system in many segments. Especially when we sit in a car or in other means of transport, where we often search for a comfortable position on an incorrectly set seat, feet are on the pedals, arms on the steering wheel or shifting stick. Especially on long trips, when we have no option to leave the position and stretch out, we get often troubled by pain the back, cervical spine, hip, knee or shoulder joints or elbows.
Pain in the area of the lower back is by drivers usually caused by incorrect position of the torso, which is in the constant slight bend. In practice it is a position when we “collapse” into the backrest of the seat and our weight is not resting on the sitting bones as it should, but on the pelvis. Even though we oftentimes do not realize it, this position is in fact an forward inclination of the lumbar spine. We should however strive to hold our back straight in the natural curvature of the spine. You can look here on how to acquire correct position while driving.
If your back remains to hurt, take breaks during longer trips and stretch out your back for example with this exercise.
The above mentioned incorrect position during traveling can have a whole lot of other consequences other than just pain in the lower back. In combination with incorrect position of the legs on the pedals, can incorrect sitting posture overload shorter muscles in the pelvic area and hip joints. This overload can result in pain in the buttocks and hips, but it can lead even to irritation of the sitting nerve, which can cause unpleasant burning or tingling sensations on the back of your legs. Prevention lies again in prevention of taking regular breaking. If you feel the mentioned problems already, start to relieve the contracted muscles. At first place a tennis ball beneath the places where you feel pain and sit on it, gently massage the painful muscles and then stretch them out.
Pain in the area of the knee joints connected with frequent driving is the most common pain in the thighs. Similarly as it is by pelvic muscles is it is ideal to relieve and stretch out your muscles manually. The most effective method to stretch out specific muscles on the legs is to use the foam roller. Exercise tutorials for relieving the pain from knees can be found here.
Another common problem that troubles us on long trips is pain in the cervical spine and nape. Stiffness and pain is oftentimes caused by incorrect position of the head and arms, that can cause muscle neck to be overworked. Apart from already mentioned changed position, use these exercises to relieve the neck muscles and neck muscles.
As a prevention you can use exercise for stabilization of the shoulder blades, which will relieve the overworked muscles. The same exercise can be used also if you feel pain in your shoulders. That is caused most frequently by overloading the biceps muscles and other muscles of the shoulder joint and shoulder blades. Driving with one hand and incorrect position of the arms and head is also often at fault. Implement in your exercising also stretching exercises.
If you still feel shooting pain in your elbows and forearms, or you feel pain only in the elbow joints, add to the above mentioned also stretching of the forearm muscles. The exercise is ideal also as a prevention.
If you do not feel any problems, but you spend a lot of time with traveling, use our list of preventive exercises.
Author: FYZIOklinika physiotherapy Ltd., Prague, Czech Republic