Driving – many of us do it, but we often forget the impact that our drive to work can
have on our bodies. I spend a lot of time driving due to my mobile business. And
while driving, I often forget to pay attention to my posture (I know, I’m a massage
therapist, I should know better, but hey, I’m human). This poor posture often causes
me to feel discomfort in my shoulders. And that discomfort is increased when you
have to spend time stuck in traffic, which is what I have to do due to the
Metro bus roadwork in Bristol.
So, what can you do to stop pain while driving? Well, this is what I will be talking to
you about today.
What effect does your drive to work have on your body?
You’ll be surprised to know that driving doesn’t only affect your physical health, but it
also affects your psychological health.
Back pain – studies have shown that driving can cause lower back pain. This
is believed to be caused by bad posture and seat position.
Shoulder and neck pain – studies have shown that you can feel neck and
shoulder pain while driving. Again, poor posture is believed to cause this
Knee pain – a study that looked at the driving questionnaires filled by 1242
taxi drivers found that driving caused the taxi drivers to suffer knee pain.
Increased anxiety – driving (or commuting to work) can have a negative effect
on your psychological health. A 2014 Office for National Statistics report found
that people who commute more than thirty minutes to work suffered from
increased anxiety, lower happiness levels, and depression risk were higher
than those who didn’t have to commute to work.
Increased blood pressure – it has been claimed that driving can increase your
blood pressure, which is believed to be due to the increased levels of stress
that you can feel while driving. A study has found that the longer a person’s
commute to work is than the higher their blood pressure.
Sleep issues – a report has found that those who commute to work for longer
than forty-five minutes (each way) have a lower quality of sleep than those
with a shorter travel time.
As you can see, driving can have a negative effect on our bodies and minds.
However, you can combat these effects. And this is what I will be talking to you
What to do before your drive to work?
There are things you can do before you drive to work to limit pain while driving
(physical and mental).
Exercise – the exercise to do before you get into your car is called a Forward
Bend. The Forward Bend is a yoga pose that gives an intense stretch of the
back and hamstring muscles, which would help with any previous back pain.
Also, this pose is believed to relieve stress and depression. You can do the
Forward Bend while standing or sitting. This YouTube video shows you how
to do the Forward Bend.
Adjust your seat – a poorly adjusted seat can be why you feel pain while
driving. This website shows you the correct position your car seat needs to be
in. As well as your car seat, you need to make sure that your steering wheel is
at a proper height.
Breathing exercises – if commuting to work by car causes you to feel anxious
or stressed, then it’s a good idea to try some breathing exercises to help you
What to do while driving?
So, what can you do while commuting to work by car? Well, there are many things
you can do while driving, these include:
Note: Please only do the exercises when the car is stationary.
Maintain good posture – so, what is good posture while driving? Well, you
need to use the back support, your knees should be at the same level or
higher than your hips, and your bottom should be as close to the backrest as
possible – this means no slouching or leaning forward.
Reduce stress – commuting can cause you to feel stressed, especially when
you’re late or stuck in traffic. To combat the stress, try the 4-7- 8 breath. It is a
breathing technique that enables you to keep calm. This technique involves
inhaling through the nose for four seconds, holding your breath for seven
seconds and then exhaling through your mouth for eight seconds. So before
you honk your car horn in frustration, stop, take a deep breath, and exhale.
Neck and shoulder stretches – this exercise should only be completed while
the car is stationary – it’s ideal to do while stuck in traffic. The neck and
shoulder stretch involves looking to the left (hold for three seconds), returning
to the central position, and then looking to the right (hold for three seconds) –
repeat ten times.
Take frequent breaks – The Highway Code says you should take a fifteen-
minute break after two hours of driving.
Exercises to do after driving?
After a tiring journey, you will probably not want to exercise, but it will help any
physical or psychological health problems that commuting to work has caused.
These exercises are:
The Forward Bend – this pose has been mentioned above, but this is
something that you can do after you’ve finished driving.
Cat’s pose – the cat’s pose is a tilt movement, which stretches your spine and
your neck. It is believed to help ease back pain. This YouTube video will show
you how to do the exercise.
So, the next time you get into your car, I want you to think about your posture, car
seat position, and stress levels. It’s important to look after yourself, especially if you
have a mobile business. So, let’s do it together, let’s drive to work more comfortably.
Disclaimer: All information in this blog post is my (Krzysztof Klinowski – Bristol Mobile Massage) thoughts, advice and does not constitute medical advice. Please seek medical advice if your injury continues, or worsens. And please only try the exercises when it is safe to do so (your car is stationary, and the handbrake is up).