Are you planning to go on a vacation? Drive to a nice beach or to a nice lake house? Have a long drive to work? Prolonged sitting is one of the main triggers or cause of lower back, leg and sciatic nerve pain. But sitting for long hours is inevitable during a long drive. While you are carefully laying out your plans, preparing all your needs before the drive, you don’t really think about the aftermath of driving for long hours. Halfway there, while everyone is sound asleep, the nightmare strikes. Pain starts to attack your hamstrings or sciatic nerve. While you try to endure the pain, you shift from one position to another hoping that the pain would stop if you sit in a specific position. The pain ruins your whole experience thus, driving becomes dreadful to you personally. During a long car drive, you start to feel pain in your legs thus causes intense discomfort. If not stopped, it might affect your driving and would result to a bigger problem. The pain often occurs in your hamstring. Hamstring according to the Merriam Webster dictionary is any of the three muscles at the back of the thigh that functions to flex and rotate the leg and extend the thigh. Some causes of hamstring pain include coccydinia, sacroilac joint, ischio-gluteal bursitis, radiating or referred pain, and hamstring syndrome to name some. On the other hand, sciatic nerve pain is also another discomfort during a long drive. The pain occurs in the sciatic nerve which is the largest single nerve in the body and is made up of individual nerve roots that runs from the lower back, typically at lumbar segment 3 or L3, through the buttocks, and down the back of each leg. Portions of the sciatic nerve then branch out in each leg to innervate certain parts of the leg such as the thigh, calf, foot, and toes, which explains the large area affected as the pain strikes. There are various causes of sciatic nerve pain. Some of which are lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disk disease, isthmic spondylolisthesis, lumbar spinal stenosis, piriformis syndrome and sacroilac joint dysfunction, among others. Here are the ways to stop leg pain and relieve sciatica nerve pain on long car rides:
Lumbar supports can provide pain relief due to long drives. But not all lumbar supports can provide the same relief. Using a mesh lumbar support alleviates discomfort due to the way you sit or due to your seat itself. It is designed to help reduce back pressure by enabling your back to settle in the most comfortable position. With that, it soothes pressure points, and provide maximum spinal support and comfort, thus the pressure that the leg is receiving is lowered which lessens the risk of suffering from leg pain. Other than that, it also promotes good posture. This specific back support is made of lightweight mesh material and breathable fabric that repel heat which allow great air circulation for your back. It is perfect for your back to survive a long drive. Using a mesh back support can help relieve:
- Acute or chronic lower back pain
- Aching pains from pregnancy
- Degenerative disc disease
- Herniated disk
- Sciatica pain
Do not use just any wedge seat cushion but use a wedge seat cushion that is made from 100% memory foam like the Dr. Tushy wedge Cushion with Strap. It makes driving more comfortable by reducing leg pain, fatigue, & numbness. It’s “cut out” design serves to alleviate tailbone, sciatica pain and pressure from long sitting. Its formula-enhanced memory foam contours to your body’s pressure points to help alleviate pain & provide optimal balance of comfort & support. Other than that, it also promotes proper posture and spinal alignment. The adjustable seat straps keeps your cushion in place every time you enter & exit your vehicle. You also don’t have to worry about cleaning it because it is protected with a removable soft velour cover that is washable in a machine. It is also made from antimicrobial and hypoallergenic materials so you won’t actually need to spend too much effort in cleaning it every now and then.
Most pains are accompanied by inflammation. Applying a cold pack in the area where the pain occurs can reduce the inflammation and numb sore tissues, especially when the pain becomes unbearable. But remember to always use a towel or another protective barrier to avoid ice burn. You can bring a cooler to keep your ice pack cold. But if you have a lot of time to burn, you can buy some ice packs in the pharmacy or general merchandise store along the way.
Most car seats are designed like buckets and put you in a slouched position. This position places your body weight directly on your Piriformis Muscles and Sciatic nerves. Good for you, most car seats are adjustable so try making your seat flat or tilt it forward slightly. This will redistribute your weight to have a more comfortable sitting position thus promoting a good driving experience.
Set your backrest to your comfort level. It may be upright, slightly leaned back, depending on your preference. You can change it every once in a while to get you comfortable.
Your body is designed to move. Sitting in one position in a car will stiffen up your back and leg muscles which can lead to pain and possibly muscle spasm. You can make stops every once in a while. Movement stimulates blood circulation, which brings nutrients and oxygen to your lower back. Do not exchange driving pain free over a faster trip. You’ll get to your destination in no time. You might have the spirit and mindset to push through the long drive but consider your lower back and leg’s limitations. If possible, plan ahead to schedule stops and get out of the car so you can move around and stretch. Moving in your seat while driving in between exercise stops will also help. A quick 10 seconds of movement and stretching is better than sitting still. You can also adjust your seat and change your position slightly every 15 to 20 minutes and pump your ankles to keep the blood flowing and provide a slight stretch in your hamstring muscles. Any movement that is safe to do in your car will help you out.
Mind over matter. Look for diversions so you can forget about the pain like trying a new music channel, listening to podcast or to an audio book. If you’re a passenger, then lucky for you since you have quite a few choices like reading a book, playing apps on your mobile phone or tablet, watching a movie or TV series, or planning your trip’s itinerary. Getting too much into any of these diversions would surely help you forget about the pain.