driver with back pain

How to cope with sciatica pain while driving

Driving with any kind of back pain is a tough task but those who suffer from sciatica are truly in for a difficult time. Sciatica is a common and frustrating condition, causing uncomfortable pain for many and is especially difficult to deal with when behind the wheel. With the pain shooting down your leg from your lower back, operating a car isn’t easy but some things can be done to help you cope. If you are looking to head on the road after buying temp car insurance, but suffer from sciatica, this article is for you. This guide presents some top tips to help, offering advice on everything from adjusting your driving position to products that can help.

Get some extra support

Utilising lumbar support will be key in helping those suffering from sciatica. Lumbar support refers to extra support to a particular region of your back, helping to keep your spine aligned in its natural curvature. Many cars these days come fitted with in-built lumbar support but if yours doesn’t, there are products you can buy to help.

Beyond lumbar support, there are also specialist cushions that are available, such as the Sciatic Pain Relief Cushion. Coming in a variation specifically designed for cars, the cushion is convenient and gives extra relief while behind the wheel by alleviating the pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Barbara, from the website Back Pain Blog – a personal journey of a chronic back pain sufferer – is full of great tips. She spoke to us about coping with sciatica pain on the road and suggested using a pain relief cushion as her top piece of advice: “My top piece of advice on how to cope with sciatica pain while driving would be to invest in a special cushion which will make driving far more comfortable.

“Over the years I have tried many different types of sciatica cushions but my favourite (I have three, one for each of our cars and one for when I go out with friends) is The Sciatic Pain Relief Cushion which performs just like its name and is well worth the investment.”

Don’t hunch forward when driving

Connected with the above is the spine’s alignment when driving. Specialist Leon Turetsky, the founder and CEO of the online resource Back Intelligence, says that not hunching forward is the best advice that he can give and advises “instead to have a ‘neutral’ spinal alignment. This will not pinch on the nerves and thus not cause sciatica pain. The easiest way to combat this is to use a lumbar support cushion in the low back area. When driving most people’s spines get compressed and the spine is normally hunched forward, which can impinge on the discs in the back – leading to sciatica pain.”

Check your driving position

Woman driving in car

Maintaining the correct driving position is a vital step in combatting the discomfort of sciatica. What is the right position? We spoke to Active X Backs, who specialise in giving back pain and sciatica suffers relief. They offered some top tips for the correct driving position:

  • Ensure your bottom is at least as high as your knees
  • Try not to have either foot hovering
  • When a vehicle is stationary, try wobbling/shuffling from cheek to cheek in your seat
  • Have back support at approx. 110 degrees to the seat surface
  • Try to sit centrally in the seat, rather than slightly twisted

Be careful how you get in and out of the car

We spoke to the team behind the previously mentioned Sciatic Pain Relief Cushion for their advice on driving with sciatica. Their top piece of advice revolves around how drivers get in and out of the vehicle: “It is really important to take time to get into the car and driving position without aggravating the lower back as much as possible. This means avoiding unnecessary twisting and bending as much as possible and using your arms and upper body strength to take the load as much as you can. The same goes for getting out. You will surprise yourself how much this can be done with thought and planning beforehand.”

Drive for short periods

Barbara from Back Pain Blog also says to “remember to take regular breaks, even if you just stop and walk around your car a few times.” Whatever little things you can do to relieve pain on the road, ensuring that you are not behind the wheel for too long will definitely be a smart idea. If it can be helped, try to take plenty of breaks, pulling over for regular pitstops. This will allow you to get out of the car and stretch a little. The team at Sciatic Pain Relief Cushion advise: “If you have to take a long drive, plan your breaks and stops beforehand to give yourself a chance to get out, move around and stretch the legs. Most people complain of sciatica symptoms after driving for an extended period of time.” The Highway Code recommends that drivers take a break every two hours for at least fifteen minutes. If you can also share driving responsibilities with someone else, you can minimise the amount of time when your sciatica will cause you discomfort.

Do your stretches

Sciatica stretches

Stretches are a helpful way of coping with sciatica and mending your body. You will likely have been advised to perform certain back care stretches as a part of your daily routine, whether that’s to help you sleep or just go about your day, so making sure to do these after stints in the car is a good idea. It’s easy to be lazy but by taking the time to really stretch things out after driving, you will be in a better state for when you next have to get behind the wheel. Healthline lists six stretches for sciatica relief pain in this article, so make sure to add a few to your routine.

Utilise heat pads

Sitting in the same position for long periods of time can lead to muscle fatigue. Heat, however, has the benefit of being able to relax tight joints and muscles, helping blood flow to problem areas and relieving pain in the process. Therefore, taking advantage of your car’s heated seats is definitely a good idea for those with sciatica. Barbara from Back Pain Blog advises: “If your car does not have heated seats then buy some heat pads to keep your lower back warm.” Many people with sciatica find that these can help with circulation, providing welcome relief.

Choose the right car

Car dealership

Having the right car for someone with back pain is a must as you can certainly make things worse by driving a vehicle that isn’t suitable. While changing cars isn’t always achievable, sciatica sufferers will do well by looking for a car that is easy for them to get in and out of, has plenty of adjustable seat controls, heated seats, and powered steering. If you looking to buy your first car and have sciatica, taking the time to test drive it so that you feel comfortable is even more vital.

Tips for people driving with sciatica

  • Get some extra support
  • Check your driving position
  • Be careful how you get in and out of the car
  • Drive for short periods
  • Do your stretches
  • Utilise heat pads
  • Choose the right car

Sciatica is a truly unpleasant condition, that first and foremost must be checked over by a doctor or professional back specialist. But while you are on the mend or if you need to drive to any appointments, we hope the above tips will prove useful.

For more tips and advice, make sure to take a look at the Dayinsure news section.