How to prevent back pain when driving

Most of us are guilty of spending far too many of our waking hours sitting, whether at a desk, on the sofa or behind the wheel so it is unsurprising to hear that back pain is the biggest single cause of disability in the UK. Furthermore, it seems that as we age, the risk of suffering from back pain increases.

Stay active

Staying active is the best way to help prevent back pain but if you spend a lot of time driving then you may be particularly prone to suffering a musculoskeletal problem.

Why can driving lead to back pain?

Our backs are designed to move so being in a fixed position for a long time can result in back trouble. And if this static position is compounded with poor posture then it really can take its toll on our backs.

Those who are in a car for more than 4 hours a day on a regular basis are more prone to suffer with lower back pain.

Top tips for drivers

There are practical steps you can take to minimise the risk of suffering back pain from driving:

  • Don’t recline – make sure your back rest is adjusted so it is in contact with your back from your bottom to your shoulders (approx. 100 to 110 degrees), If you recline your seat too far it will make you strain your head and neck forward.
  • Adjust the steering wheel – move the steering wheel up or down to find the most comfortable position and distance from your body.
  • Move your hands – vary your hand position when you are driving. This will help improve circulation and relieve joints.
  • Elbows at 90 degrees – slide your seat either forwards or back so that when your hands are at the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock position on the steering wheel your elbows are at 90 degrees or slightly more.
  • Wiggle all the way back – position your bottom at the back of the seat so you still have the natural ‘S’ shape of your spine. Adjust your seat so it supports your thighs and avoid pressure behind your knees.
  • Headrest – should be adjusted so the mid-portion of the back of your head is in the middle of the cushion
  • Mirrors – these should be positioned so you can easily see them without putting any strain on your back or neck
  • Make regular stops – drivers and passengers should take a break every 2 to 3 hours which should involve getting out of the vehicle and walking or stretching for a few minutes or more. As well as making you feel more comfortable, a few minutes of movement will also help to improve concentration.

I have back pain – when should I see a doctor?

According to the NHS, medical attention should be sought if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain that is constant and is not alleviated by rest or movement
  • Swelling or inflammation on your back
  • Pain that is high on your back or that goes to your chest
  • Weight loss that is unexplained
  • A loss of control over your bladder or bowel
  • A temperature that is 38C (104F) or above
  • Numbness around your genitals or buttocks
  • If the back pain followed a serious accident.

Click here for 5 exercises for a healthy back or for videos on how best to stretch for keep your back healthy.

All content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated at all as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Silversurfers will not be responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content on and we are also not liable for the content of any external websites or links from or to Silversurfers to any other websites. Please always consult your own doctor if you’re in any way concerned about any aspect of your health.

Have you got a health question?

We've teamed up with AXA PPP healthcare to bring you articles, information and tips from their clinical teams on a wide range of health topics. And if you have a health related question of your own - about your or your family's health, medication or upcoming procedures, for example - you can also access their, "Ask the Expert" service. Available around the clock, 365 days a year this free resource allows you to ask the team of friendly and experienced nurses, midwives and pharmacists about any health concerns you may have - whenever you need them, 24 hours a day, every day. Please get in touch now.

Click below to submit your question online.




AXA PPP healthcare ensure that, once you have a GP referral, you can choose who to see and where to go, from a list of approved specialists and hospitals. Making sure you get the treatment you need giving you the flexibility to manage your health around your lifestyle.

AXA PPP Private health insurance, put simply, offers you quick access to eligible health treatment, from seeing a specialist for diagnosis to having a comfortable stay while you’re in hospital.

2 Months free healthcare cover for Silversurfers subscribers Plus a choice of FREE gift when you join*


The following two tabs change content below.

AXA PPP healthcare

The more you know about your body and how you can look after it, the healthier you are – and the stronger and bolder you become. That’s why we never stop looking for ways to support your health. We want to give you the tools and knowledge you need to take care of yourself – so you’re ready to face whatever the world brings.

Latest posts by AXA PPP healthcare (see all)

Leave a Comment!

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!