lab lounge blog

Road Trip: Stop neck and arm pain at the pass



Whether you are driving your ‘big rig’ or your family car, van or truck, use the posture that best suits neutral spine alignment.

Neck or rather arm pain is very common when driving! Everyone thinks it is due to how their arms are up on the steering wheel or that they are gripping too hard or that gravity is reducing the circulation. All of these things are possible but if they were the case, the feeling should go away completely when you bring your arms into a more relaxed driving position or when you change activities.


What can commonly be occuring is that you might be experiencing ‘referred’ feelings coming from your neck or your shoulder.

What is a referred feeling (pain, tingling, numbness, etc.)?

Referred feelings are sensations that are felt in an area that is not the origin of the feeling. For example, most people have heard of Sciatica. This is a referred feeling often but not always coming from irritated nerves in the lower back and then causing downstream feelings like pain in the thigh, calf, ankle, etc. You can also get referred feelings from tight muscles.


So how do we tackle referred feelings?

Most often there is an irritant or two in the activities that you may do everyday. Unbeknownst to you the way you are doing those activities, stretches or postures you might be contributing to the referred feeling sticking around way too long! Pay attention to the feeling when it is really subtle and what activity you are doing at the time. Make a mental note to avoid that activity for a least a week and see if that decreases those annoying referred feelings. For example, it might be as simple as not crossing your legs or putting your hand on your hip.


So how do we get rid of the neck and/or arm pain while driving?

Try these Three Tips:

1. Make sure your seat is at about 100 degrees of incline

+ So set the backrest not perfectly straight but not sloped way back

2. Make sure the back of your head is touching or nearly touching the head rest

+If it is a long way back and when you get your head there and you are looking up to the ceiling then just try to keep your chin tucked in and get as close to the head rest as you can while still having your eye level with the horizon (see below)


3. Make sure your arms have at least a little bend in them

+Your arms should not be fully extended where your elbows are locked, they should have at least a relaxed bend at the elbow

Enjoy your summer road trip and remember to get out and stretch your legs and enjoy the sights, the viewpoints and the monuments.


Have a GREAT Summer and drive SAFELY!


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