As the summer is winding down and it’s getting close to time to get kids back to school, everyone is squeezing in their last-minute road trips. These can be fun and educational for everyone in the car, but they can also be a real pain in the back, if you’re not careful.

But if you take the proper steps, you can avoid back pain in the car, even if you have a long way to go.

Get Good Sleep

Nothing works well if you don’t get a good night’s sleep. If you’re sleeping poorly, you’re more likely to start the day with back pain. We know that it can be hard to sleep comfortably when you’re in a different hotel every night, but it can help if you try to keep your regular sleep hygiene routine. That includes sleep apnea treatment, if you need it. If CPAP is inconvenient for you to travel, an oral appliance makes a great on-the-road alternative.

Avoid Back Pain on Road Trips

Stretch Before You Start

Driving is exercise — it’s a lot harder work than you think. And just as you can reduce discomfort if you stretch before exercise, you can help reduce your risk of back pain if you stretch before you get in the car.

Adjust Your Seat

Your seat should support your torso, especially your lower back. If it’s not supporting you, adjust it so that it is. You’re a lot less likely to experience back pain if your seat is supporting you, and you’re not supporting yourself for hours on end.

If your seat has lumbar support, use it! If you find that you need more lumbar support than your seat offers, you can use a rolled-up towel or t-shirt to get additional support. If your seat has internal heating, you can use that to help ease tense muscles, and head off worse pain at the end of the day.

Move your seat forward or back until you can sit with your knees slightly above your hips and still comfortably reach the pedals. And don’t forget the headrest.

And in a related note, don’t forget the seat of your pants, especially the back pockets — you shouldn’t have anything in them, especially not a bulky wallet.

Keep in Your Seat

A problem many people have when they’re driving is that they lean forward. It doesn’t matter how well your seat is adjusted if you’re not using it as you drive. Don’t lean forward, lean back in your seat and let it hold you up.

Make sure you’ve adjusted all your mirrors so they only work when you sit back in your seat. This will help you keep there.

Take Frequent Breaks and Share Driving Duty

As we said, driving is surprisingly hard work. If you don’t take breaks, you are more likely to strain yourself. When you do take a break, don’t just sit down in restaurant or coffee shop, go for a walk, do some stretches, and maybe even get a little bit of vigorous exercise.

And if you do have more than one person who can drive, divide up the work. This will help pass the time and keep your passengers engaged.

Try Not to Stress

We understand: road rage happens. But if you let it happen to you too frequently, you will suffer more than anyone. Stress causes you to tense muscles in your head, jaw, neck and back.

Whenever a stressful event happens, try to let it go. If you’re having difficulty relaxing after a stressful event, take an early break or even ask your codriver to take the wheel for a while.

Is Persistent Back Pain Related to TMJ?

Have you followed all these tips but you still tend to develop back pain? It could be related to TMJ. If TMJ introduces imbalance to your system, it can send a cascade of stress through your body, especially during long tasks like driving that demand constant support for your upper body.

If you are looking for a TMJ dentist in Philadelphia that can help relieve jaw, neck, and back pain, please call (610) 272-0828 today for an appointment with Dr. Ken Siegel at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell.