I have been a driving instructor now for over 3 years which I absolutely love. But there have been some problems i needed to learn to deal with. The main one is back pain while driving. This started to make me feel like a was an old man with a stiff back and neck. Luckily I have managed to deal with it and ill tell you how.
Driving instructing obviously means spending a massive position of my time in the car. This means I am getting very little to no exercise and my posture is terrible. In fact its well know that driving instructors are at a far higher risk of ending up with a permanent twisted spine and thrombosis in the legs because of there seated position of watching students all day and barely moving any muscles.
My neck and back pain would cause me to almost hunch by needing to push my head forward like I was slouching. And if i did not do this I would end up in pain. I also new this was not supposed to happen So over the past 3 years I have started trying to find ways to combat this.
Causes of my Back Pain While Driving
When I started a lot of driving as part of my job I would need to go and see a sports masseuse every 3 months. I actually felt stupid because i do not play sport so why do I keep getting this pain? After this happening 3 times the masseuse asked me about my habits driving sleeping, positioning and more. After I made some changes I managed to increase the frequency of seeing her to 6 months and now I haven’t needed to go for over a year.
The Changes I Made to Stop the Back Pain while Driving
Of course everything was all sorts of wrong but you cant change everything and I haven’t but as she explained it the main causes of my symptoms were :
Driving with the chair leaning right back around 45 degrees
Sleeping on my side instead of my back
Sleeping with 2 pillows instead of one
Have the equivalent ab strength as a jelly fish
Slouching on the sofa surrounded by cuyshions
What changes I made
Seating Position to Help Stop Back Pain While Driving
The biggest cause of my back pain while driving was down to my seat position. Now as I say no one is perfect and there were some things I was not willing to sacrifice such as 2 pillows in bed and sleeping on my side. The first thing I changed was my seat position because after all I was in the car a lot. I was told to go from the 45-degree angle to the 90-degree vertical seat. Let me tell you she warned me this was going to hurt and she was right. This created a new and horrible pain throughout my back for weeks to come.
She explained I was using new muscles in my back and chest that were not used to being used and she was right, they weren’t used to being used. Sometimes I thought this isn’t worth it. I remember driving 2 hours to Wales in agony but I persisted on. Within around 4 weeks the pain in my back stopped and I was used to sitting up straight. Now I could sit up straight in a car without any issues at all. Then I realised if I could do it in a car I could do it in any chair including my office chair in front eh of computer which I love to spend time in.
The chair positioning helped massively but it still wasn’t the perfect fix. So the next thing I looked into was my abs. Again, it was explained to me that we should use our muscles to support our bodies, not our skeleton.
So when we stand or sit up the muscles hold us there not our back. The problem was I wasn’t using any muscles. When sitting up or standing, your abs should be around 30-50% tensed. This holds your back in and gives you the best position for standing or sitting. It also shares the burden on the back.
This is obvious, but when I was not exercising I could check my phone working 8 till 5 and I would have done 950 steps but I would still get home tired. This is very frustrating and also really bad for me. So the biggest change I made was to make sure I went on a 40-minute walk every day.
The easiest way for me to do this was to change my priorities. Instead of thinking I don’t have time for a walk I put walking at the top of the priority list, it just had to happen. Funnily enough, once I started I realised I enjoyed the walk. It gave me a chance to clear my head and get some clarity from the constant brain fog.
When I started as a driving instructor I never took a break not even for lunch. I would drive from one student o the next and if it was lunch time I ate my lunch on the way. I realised this was not letting my brain recharge and was not good for my body.
So now I always make sure there are 30 minutes between each appointment and get out of the car between appointments and have a 5-minute walk around., This gets the blood flowing and stops me from being stuck in one position for too long.