With the holiday period coming up, many Melbournians will be heading out of town to the Mornington Peninsula, the Surf Coast, Gippsland/Lakes Entrance and beyond. This often means extended periods of sitting, sometimes in awkward positions. To avoid getting to your destination stiff and in pain, which is never a good start to your holiday, take a moment to check your driving posture and ensure you are doing all you can to minimise pains and strains.
The obvious place to start is by looking at your lower back posture. Back pain can often be attributed to the lumbar spine, the lowest 5 vertebrae of the spinal cord. When driving, it is common to adopt a slouching posture (even if only a little), which over prolonged periods of time can cause strain on the lumbar spine.
Take a minute before starting your journey to pay attention to how your hips and lower back are positioned. It is best to have your knees either level or a little below your hips and a small curvature in your lower back. If your car has the option, adjust the lumbar support to ensure this curvature is maintained, otherwise a McKenzie lumbar roll purchased from Fairfield Physiotherapy can assist with maintaining a correct and comfortable seating position.
Given the sustained and repetitive movements needed in the lower limbs while driving, leg and shin muscles can become strained causing the muscles to fatigue and tighten. Taking regular breaks throughout the journey, as well as periodic stretching can help with managing and preventing these strains.
Here are some guided stretches you can do throughout the drive:
Finally, simply getting out of the car and walking around for 10-15 minutes every 60-90 minutes helps with lower body circulation, alertness, stiffness and getting some fresh air. It is tempting to just push through the journey and relax once you reach your destination but including a couple of rest breaks is worth it when you don’t feel as wiped out and sore at the start of your holiday.
If you need any further advice about preparing for or recovering from the effects of a long car journey, contact us at Fairfield Physiotherapy on 94897744.