Does your back hurt more when you drive?  It’s not a surprise to me because I’ve sat in lots and lots of car seats and I don’t like ’em.

Some designers seem to think that car seats are for lounging.  C’mon now.  Drivers are supposed to be alert and able to see the road.  I’d like to be supported rather than reclining.

1.  But sometimes car seats don’t have anything to support your lower back while you are reclin…I mean, driving.  If you don’t have a lumbar support you can create one easily and cheaply.  Fold a hand towel into quarters or eighths or whatever thickness fits between you and your car seat.  It goes behind your waist.

If you have access to a small baby pillow or a batt of fiberfill they will work, too.  You might even find a nicely shaped lumbar support at the dollar store.  When I found a bin of them at a dollar store I bought several.  Those are some of the best dollars I have ever spent!

2.  Sometimes car seats recline so much that your head is forced to jut forward.  That strains upper back and neck muscles.  If you can put your seat into a more upright position that will help.

3.   Lots of headrests stick out too far.  All I can figure is that the designers are trying to support the heads of people who are really dysfunctional and are ignoring the folks with nice, neutral, straight posture.    It’s really annoying for someone with nice posture to sit in those cars; they cause head and neck pain in short order.  What can you do if your headrest sticks out too far?  Well, you could throw it out the window.  Or you could just pad up the seat back so your whole body will move forward.  And in some cars adding a lumbar pillow or support can move you forward just enough so the headrest won’t bug you as much.

So your back pain might not be your fault.  If you hurt when you drive it could well be your seat.  If your car seat isn’t comfortable for you, give yourself some props, cushions or supports.  Create your own custom seat so you can drive without back pain.

Here’s another idea:  Sometimes use the lumbar support and sometimes don’t.  Or use differently sized back supports.  Switch it up so you keep flexing your muscles and spine in different ways.  That will keep things flexible.

We like flexible, relaxed backs.  They don’t have pain.


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4 Comments on Does Your Car Seat Cause Your Back Pain?

  1. Agne says:

    Your articles are very well written and your suggestions seem worth the try.

    I keep getting a knot that is super painful and keeps coming back under my left shoulder blade. It just seems so much worse now that I have been driving more and got a job where I am always sitting. I def have to try and see if back support or something helps with it. I’ve been looking through different sites for things to change up that might help it out.

  2. Hi Agne, Thank you very much and thank you for writing.

    Do you mean below/underneath your shoulder blade? Do you lean on the arm rest on the door? Is your left hand your dominant one or do you carry things in your left arm? I’m thinking that you are contracting or shortening the muscle below your shoulder blade/arm pit. That can happen with those movements. If so, you need someone to give you a good hard pinch! 🙂

    Really, if that muscle area is tightening up (and it sounds like it from here) see if you can find someone who will grab the muscle (not just pinch the skin–but gather up a lot of tissue–a good handful–so they are grabbing the muscle) and ‘pinch’ it. It will not be comfortable for you.

    But if they can hold the pinch for a minute or two and gently let go, you may find in about twenty minutes that it feels a whole lot better!

    You could also try placing a tennis-type ball on the floor or bed and lay on it. Or place the ball in a sack or sock and apply pressure to the painful area with the ball against the wall. The open end of the sack is what you can hold onto so the ball doesn’t escape. is a little video that will give you an idea of how to use the ball…kind of.

    It could be that a back support would help. You can make one at home with folded hand towels or a batt of fiberfill or sometimes even a throw pillow or baby pillow will work. Sometimes just changing the position of your back several times a day will make a good difference. Sometimes use a back rest, sometimes not. Or switch between a few different sizes.

    Also strengthening your back will help. So will stretching and moving. Even breathing into your painful area when you are driving may help because it will move the muscles.

    Car seats are not known for good support. Some truck seats are better. You may be able to kind of ‘design’ your own with props to make it fit your body better.

    I hope this helps you get rid of the painful knot under your left shoulder blade quickly!

    The Pain Relief Coach

  3. Agne says:

    Hi, Kathryn,

    Thank you for the reply! I am right handed, but I do tend to lean on my left arm as I answer the phone or sit in an office chair. It’s more of a habit than anything I think. I actually got a back rest for my chair and have been shifting around and stretching more, and trying to keep my back more relaxed.

    I also tried the tennis ball last night. It was a bit strange but it did the trick. It gave me some relief. It just seems to be a very stubborn knot. I will keep on working on it and figuring out the best way to relieve the situation.



  4. Hi Agne, Thank you for letting me know. You may be straining the muscles on your left hand side when you lean or perhaps contracting them unknowingly. (I’m kind of ‘leaning’ to the contracting thought.) Remember to work on the areas AROUND the knot, too. The knot is a symptom. Gotta get rid of the cause. 🙂

    Keep on trying. I believe that you will be able to get rid of that nasty knot in your back.

    The Pain Relief Coach