Today’s Solutions: April 23, 2024

Nobody wants to spend hours delayed in traffic; it’s a nightmare on wheels for those with back pain. Take it from Olivia Sabedra-Buck, a 36-year-old marketing manager from Santa Barbara, California, who has suffered from severe lower back pain caused by a ruptured disk during her daily commute. “When it was at its worst, even driving 10 or 15 minutes sucked,” Sabedra-Buck explained in an interview with SELF.

Do you suffer from back discomfort that worsens while you’re locked in your car? Have no fear! With a little expert advice and a splash of imagination, we can transform your road trips from insufferable to downright enjoyable.

1. Plan your path to painless travel

Let’s start with some strategic planning. Dr. Arya N. Shamie, an orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery professor at UCLA School of Medicine, recommends investigating other routes and timing your trip to avoid the worst traffic. As Dr. Shamie puts it, “Minimizing the amount of time you spend in the vehicle might help.” 

And why not make your ride more enjoyable while you’re at it? Make a road trip playlist or listen to your favorite podcast to make the miles go by quickly and happily.

2. Sit in style for a comfortable cruise

Prepare to ride in luxury! Dr. Shamie recommends adjusting your seat to ergonomic perfection to keep your spine happy and healthy. As Dr. Shamie suggests, “Situate yourself so your back follows the gentle, S-shaped curve of a healthy spine.” Say goodbye to uncomfortable hunching and hello to a comfortable, supported ride.

3. Pillow power: adding fluff for a happy back

Dr. Dante Implicito, a spine specialist and chair of orthopedics at Hackensack University Hospital, recommends adding a soft pillow to your seat to keep your spine healthy and prevent slouching. Dr. Implicito says, “It puts pressure on your back above your waistline and pushes your belly forward a bit, which is a better posture for driving.” It’s like a mini-spa day for your back, right in your vehicle!

4. Shake it up: continue moving and grooving on the go

Who says you have to sit motionless on a road trip? Julie Sherry, a physical therapist at UW Health, suggests shaking things up with some on-the-go exercises. In the words of Sherry, “Make it a point to do small—but impactful—movements throughout the drive that’ll limit stress on your back and keep you from getting fatigued.” Switch hands on the wheel, wriggle in your seat—anything to keep your muscles limber and your spirits up!

5. Exit strategy: depart with care to maintain comfort

As your adventure draws to a close, it’s time for the grand finale: the graceful exit. Dr. Christopher Bise PT, DPT, PhD, an assistant professor of physical therapy at the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, advocates for a smooth exit, activating your core and taking it easy as you bid farewell to your faithful automobile. The doctor points out, “Your core muscles are connected to your spine, and they help stabilize it so it doesn’t move back and forth.” And remember, the adventure does not end when you park! Take time to stretch your legs and bask in the satisfaction of reaching your destination.

With these useful ideas, you’ll be traveling down the highway with ease. So buckle up, roll down the windows, and prepare to make those road trips stress-free and painless!


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