Osteopathy and Driving

Whether driving your car to work, driving a bus, or lorry for a living or even as a passenger you could be prey to back pain.

In many cases osteopathy may help to reduce pain and your practitioner can offer advice on back pain management, including simple exercises, to prevent problems in the future.

Driving can give you

  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder pain
  • Wrist pain
  • Elbow pain
  • Stiff neck
  • Back pain
  • “Bottom ache”
  • Hip pain
  • Knee pain
  • Foot and ankle pain



Car seats can be moved to suit your posture but make sure that you always:

  • Keep your seat reasonably upright, leaning at only a slight angle.
  • Keep headrest adjusted so that the centre of the headrest is level with your eyes. This prevents serious whiplash injury in the event of an accident.
    Don’t set the headrest too low as this can exacerbate injury in an accident.
  • When getting in, sit and swing your legs into the car. When you get out move the seat back to help.
  • Do you ‘ride the clutch’, resting your foot in the air? No wonder your ankles or calf muscles hurt.
  • Avoid resting your elbow on the window especially in a draught, which is a sure way of getting a stiff neck.
  • To relax, raise your shoulders to your ears breathing in, then lower them as you breathe out.
    Do this at every red traffic light, or major junction.
  • Avoid reaching behind to get bags from the rear seat. Don’t be lazy. Get out and open the door.
  • Be careful when loading and unloading. Lift correctly.
  • Avoid lifting unnecessary weights. Get help to change a tyre.
  • Sit with arms gently bent at the elbow to the wheel and don’t lean forward out of the seat.

Is the car the right fit for you?

Sometimes, the design of the car itself can lead to back problems. If you have to drive long distances, particularly, check out the cabin and layout of the controls with the following tests.


Driver or Passenger


It’s not just the driver who can stiffen up in a car.
Passengers are often seated for long periods of time in a fixed position.

Movement is the key for car, driver and passenger.

As a passenger, try to alter your position from time to time and sit with your knees bent and thighs level and comfortable. Avoid sitting with your legs crossed; move them regularly.

For driver and passengers, stop regularly especially when feeling tired. Get out of your vehicle and walk around it several times.

Stretch like a cat, gently moving your arms around, bringing your knees up to your hips, and stretching your whole body.


Back pain Sufferers

  • Choose a car with an adjustable lumbar support (and use it).
  • Choose a car with a higher kerb height to make getting in and out less stressful on the spine.
  • Depressing the clutch increases intradiscal pressure so choose an automatic to avoid this.
  • Power steering also significantly reduces the load on the spine.


  • Prevention is better than cure. Sit properly, drive relaxed.
  • Osteopaths may advise on posture.
  • Osteopaths treat neck and back pain – and a great many other things as well.
  • If you are unlucky enough to be involved in a road accident osteopathy can help relieve the pain of injury, especially whiplash-type injuries.

Drive Safely!