Previously, Brighton chiropractor Matthew Bennett, looked at what causes back pain in cars. As we saw, correct adjustment of your car seat will help. Seats are partly to blame but that is not the whole story. Poorly positioned pedals and steering wheels can make a bad problem worse.
So what is the ideal car for back sufferers?
Rule out small hatchbacks and super-minis. Their short wheelbase and often poor ride may well aggravate a bad back. Also rule out low slung sports cars with firm suspension even though sports seats can be very good. The ideal car must have all the usual car attributes of being reliable, economical and reasonably priced of course and for our purposes a high driving position is preferable.
So what car does all this? The Skoda Yeti. The Yeti wins our Sundial award for the best car to prevent back pain. The Yeti is slightly higher off the ground than a normal hatchback. It has a reasonable wheelbase and is available with 16 inch and 17 inch wheels. Avoid the 18 inch wheels though as there is not enough rubber to cushion the ride. It has large doors and is spacious inside. In fact it feels larger on the inside than it looks on the outside.
If it had been called the Skoda Tardis few would have complained. Following on with the Dr Who theme there was a monster called the Yeti in the 1968 version of the show. That Yeti lived in the London Underground. Now we have Boris.
The Yeti It also won the Auto Express Driver Power 2012 award for the best car as voted by 29,000 owners.
Taking the time and trouble to buy the right car in the first place may well prevent miles of driving misery. If in spite of setting the car seat up well you are still getting back pain then give us call so we can book you in for free check-up. We will see if you have an underlying issue with your back joints or muscles which can easily be sorted out.
Top tips to avoid back pain in the car
– Buy a bigger, high riding car.
– Adjust seat and steering wheel position to your frame.
– Avoid large wheels over 17 inches.
– Avoid firm suspension.
– Choose a car with seats with good side support and lumbar support.
– If you don’t have a lumbar support stick a rolled up towel or jumper in the small of your back.
– Avoid potholes (hard on British roads)
– On a long journey, take a break every hour, walk about and stretch.
If you get back pain in your car you’ll know how unpleasant it can make a long journey. Back pain can make driving a misery. Brighton chiropractor, Matthew Bennett, gives a few simple tips that can help relieve back pain in your car.
Top tips to prevent back pain in your car
Buy a bigger car. It is an unfortunate truth that many small cars are only designed with short journeys in mind. Poor support from inadequate seats that are made for smaller than average people make them suitable for driving around town at low speeds and not much else. Most drivers in Brighton and Hove use their cars for journeys of less than 20 minutes. A longer journey in many small hatchbacks, even if you don’t have a bad back, will be enough to have you reaching for the pain-killers.
There are a few other problems with smaller cars too. Never mind suspension that has springs better suited to a child’s toy than a modern vehicle, the ergonomics in the cabin can be terrible. The intrusion of the front right wheel arch into the footwell means that the pedals on even some medium sized cars are pushed towards the middle and you have sit in a twisted position. This of course is not ideal if you have back ache.
Not content with contorting our lower body un-naturally car manufacturers have devised the off-set steering wheel to complete the torment. Because space is tight in a small car the steering wheel can be set at angle too. These changes are subtle but when you’re stuck in that odd position for more than a few minutes, back muscles and joints start to complain.
Poor seats in cheaper cars don’t have enough support either in the low back (lumbar) area or in the often over-looked side bolsters. If such cars do have a lumbar support it can be in the wrong position for you. Variable pump-up back supports in the seat can be helpful but if you pump them up enough to be useful they can push you so far forwards that the side bolsters, if they exist, become useless.
Getting in and out of smaller, low riding cars can be troublesome too. If your back has already stiffened up after a long drive, getting out of the car, levering yourself upright under a low roof line can strain your back. How much easier to lower yourself from a high riding car. Suv and cross-over type vehicles do really well here. They are not only higher off the ground but can sometimes have a more compliant ride, especially if you avoid larger wheel sizes. Putting things in the boot is easier too as you don’t have to bend over so far especially if the boot has no lip. If you have babies or toddlers getting them in and out of a car seat is a hazard in small, low cars. The Suv is great here.
Car seat adjustment to prevent back pain
The base of the seat should be long enough to support the backs of your thighs but not touch your knees. It should be slightly higher at the front than the back too.
The seat back should ideally be at about a 110-120 degree angle with the lumbar support pumped up to a comfortable position. The more options you can adjust the better. Height and tilt changes mean that you are most likely to find a comfortable driving position.
Steering wheel adjustments will help too. Adjusting for rake and in and out mean that you can get perfectly comfortable. The trouble starts when someone else uses the car and changes your carefully honed set up. Back to square one – unless you have electric memory seats of course. This option is only available at the executive end of the market but might be worth looking out for if you share a car.
If you have adjusted your seat as best you can but are still getting back pain then give us call so we can book you in for free check-up. We will see if you have an underlying issue with your back joints or muscles which can easily be sorted out.
Dry needling specific areas in muscles called trigger points is an evidence based technique for relieving and often eliminating pain coming from muscles such as back pain, neck and shoulder pain. Muscle pain can come in many forms from just being tender to touch, to a consistent ache to an excruciating spasm. Dry needling with acupuncture needles can help.
How effective is dry needling at relieving back muscle pain?
The 2009 NICE guidelines recommend that dry needling as a useful adjunct for health practioners for the treatment of low back pain . One famous study showed that the needle caused immediate back pain relief in nearly 86% of needle sites. In over 31% of cases the pain relief was permanent; 20% had several months of pain relief and 22%, were better for several weeks.
What is dry needling?
Dry needling uses a very fine acupuncture needle to “deactivate” or “shut down” painful or knotted areas in your muscles. Many of us have areas in our body that feel tense all the time or feel like a hard ball in the muscle. By inserting fine needles into these tight areas, we elicit a “twitch response” or a brief contraction followed by an immediate and long lasting relaxation. Because the needle can treat very deep parts of the muscle it can often reach deeper muscles that other techniques such as massage can not reach.
How does dry needling work?
Based on pioneering work by Dr Jay Shah colleagues at the National Institutes of Health we know that inserting a needle into a trigger point can cause favourable biochemical changes which assist in reducing pain. It is most effective when there is a local twitch response and this can be described as a “deep aching”, “pressure”, “releasing” or “soreness”. The needle is left in for a very short period of time, just long enough to relax the muscle. The procedure is repeated in different areas until the muscle returns to its normal, relaxed state.
What can it help?
Essentially any postural problem or injury where the pain is primarily from a muscle. Most commonly it can be used with
So problems such arm and shoulder pain from mouse and keyboard overuse respond very well.
One last thing, dry needling is just one way of relieving muscular pain. If you have a needle phobia or just don’t like the idea of the technique there are other effective techniques we use at Sundial to help relieve your muscle pain such as laser therapy, massage and chiropractic.
References Dry Needling In Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Practice, Jan Dommerholt, Orthopaedic Practice, Vol16, 3:04