Low Back Pain While Driving and tips to help

Written by Luke Attkins
B.App Sc (Chiropractic)
M.Clin Chiropractic

As most of you are aware around this time of the year, we are all hopping into our cars for the long drive to family around this season.  This can sometimes lead to back, neck and shoulder stiffness, and if this what you are feeling through heavy traffic and long drives you are not alone. 

Although, this day and age car seats have been adapting to helping those with low back pain by adding in seat warmers and massage chairs, they are still lacking lumbar support for those long drives. 

With the loss of lumbar control, it encourages us to sit with poor posture, which can then cascade on to putting stress through the mid back and neck. 

We have all been on those trips where we get out of the car for a stretch, and it feels like our whole back is going to crack and pop. 

How can we change a seat that is designed to only be adjustable in certain positions?  We can apply, what we can control.


Push your seat as far back as possible. If the steering wheel is adjustable, bring it high and close to the driver.

Drop the seat height and cushion to their lowest and the seat’s backrest reclined back to roughly 30 degrees.


Slowly move the seat forward one notch at a time until you find a comfortable position allowing your leg to have good control over the pedals.


Again, recline the backrest one notch at a time until your back feels supported. Make sure it is not excessively declined because this will interrupt the driver’s field of vision.

As for the cushion height, the rule of thumb is knees lower or at the same height as your hips.

This can be a bit tricky because most cushions are in an inclined position making the knees sit higher than the hips. Bring it up to the point where your knees are at the same height as your hips. Then, sit on a cushion or a rolled-up towel to help lift the hips up higher than the knees relieving some of the pressure in the lower back.


Move the steering wheel to a distance where your wrist is comfortably resting on it at 10 and 2 o’clock position with your elbows slightly bent.

It should also be adjusted to a height where the controls are clearly viewed and not touching your legs while driving.


This is probably the simplest thing anyone can do if the back is hurting when driving. Yes. Get out of the car and take a short 5–10-minute walk or do some stretching ideally at each hour of driving.

This has been shown through studies that the likelihood of getting back pain while sitting in a car, verse sitting in an office chair is a lot higher due to the vibration of the vehicle whilst driving applying more strain on to the whole spine.