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Driving Smarter to Avoid Neck Pain

Neck, / By Winsen Citra

Driving is, for some of us, an unavoidable task that we have to do. Some of us do it as our main activities to earn a living and it can be very stressful. In addition to traffic, road rage, and time constraints, you probably still have to contend with that nagging shoulder and neck pain at the end of the day. So, today I am going to share with you some tips and tricks on how to avoid neck pain when you drive.

What causes neck pain while driving?

One of the biggest contributor to neck pain with any activities is your posture. It usually comes about when you hold your head in an extended position and use your arms and upper body for long periods of time. Does this activity sound familiar? If it is, that’s because it describes driving quite aptly.

What can I do to prevent neck pain while driving?

  • Change your seat position – you want to make sure your car seat isn’t too far back that you are straining your head forward. You should be sitting upright on your seat with your head rested on the headrest.
  • Relax your arms – your elbows should be in a gentle bend position. If you’re having to keep your elbow fully straight, then you need to move your seat forward. Another thing you can try to keep your shoulder and neck in a more relaxed position is to hold your steering wheel in a 4 and 8 o’clock position. This position is less strenuous than the 10 and 2 o’clock position they typically teach you in driving school.
  • Make your car do the work – a lot of modern car these days have cruise control, auto parking, or even self driving capabilities. These are all features that we should use more as they allow us to be relax in our commute.

Adapting is important

With any changes that you make, try it out for a few days to see how your body adapt to it. Also, make only 1 or 2 changes at a time to allow you to pinpoint what about you current driving position is causing problems for your body. As always, if you cannot figure out what is causing the pain, we at Elevate Physiotherapy are happy to help you. Below, I have recorded a short video that may help you with your driving position.

Winsen Citra
Principal Physiotherapist

About the author

Winsen graduated from University of Melbourne in 2011. He worked in organisations of various sizes such as Singapore General Hospital, Pain Relief Practice, and Physioclinic before working at Elevate Physiotherapy. He specialises in sports and musculoskeletal injuries and has worked with athletes of various sports such as fencing, dancing, dragon boating, and cycling.

In his spare time he enjoys singing and playing chess.