What Can You Do to Relieve Pain and Stress While Driving?

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.

The effects:

 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).

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