At some point most of us have experienced upper back and neck pain while driving. Perhaps you turned your head to the side to shoulder check and felt a sharp shooting pain, or just a “crick” in your neck.
This is a problem.
It can be even more of a problem when the pain in your neck causes you to recruit your entire upper body to shoulder check, or even worse “hope for the best” and not check at all. We have all seen other drivers do that one.
It’s important to know what causes your commute to be a pain in the neck and how to fix it before you cause an accident.
Don’t accept anything less than a full range of motion.
This is not an “eh…its good enough” moment, you need to be able to comfortably turn your head from side to side. Your safety and the safety of others are at risk here. As a Chiropractor one of the first things we evaluate when a patient presents with neck pain is the range of motion. How far can you turn your head to the left and then to the right.
A full range of motion should include the ability to turn your head so your chin is in line with your shoulder without shrugging your shoulders, turning your body or having pain of any kind. You don’t have to go “full exorcist” but you should easily be able to bring your chin near your shoulder, and if you can’t it is a sure sign that there is a problem not just with the muscles, but also the bones in your neck.
It May be More than your commute.
The pain in your neck while driving may be more than the length of your commute, or the frustration of driving in heavy traffic. The likelihood is that there are other factors as well, and your commute is where the pain manifests.
Most people work at a desk all day with poor posture, and then double up on the poor posture on the commute back home. At a red light look at the other drivers around you and I am sure you’ll notice that their head is way forward, their shoulders are rounded forward, and they are probably slouched down in the seat.
This posture puts a tremendous amount of extra weight and pressure on the back of your neck, leading to muscle fatigue, soreness, misalignment of the bones in your neck, and finally pain.
One simple thing.
While this is not going to fix the root cause of this problem (misalignment if the bones in your neck), It can be a very helpful thought when it comes to better posture. Try pushing or pointing the top of your sternum (breastbone) towards the sky. This naturally helps you sit up straighter and pulls your neck and shoulders back.
It’s all about alignment.
As tempting as it might be to chalk up your neck pain to stress or needing a massage, the reality is that your commuting conundrum comes down to alignment.
Think about it this way.
Your entire central nervous system travels to every part of your body from your brain and your spinal cord. The majority of your peripheral nerves pass through one or more areas of your spine. When your spine is out of alignment, these nerves become cramped sending distress signals to your brain in the form of pain, numbness, tingling, or even burning.
Over time, if the bones are not realigned, the muscles begin to compensate for weakness or pain creating even bigger problems than before. If you fix the alignment problem, you fix the nerve problem which, in turn, fixes the muscular problem.
Chiropractic care is the best way to realign your spine and restore your neck’s range of motion. The cervical vertebrae, the bones closest to the skull, are capable of moving in every direction. But if they are misaligned, their movement is impeded. By carefully and strategically realigning these bones as well as the rest of the spine, you will find your range of motion is restored and your pain is relieved at the source.
Stop relying on your mirrors and dumb luck to stay safe on your commute.
At Desert Valley Chiropractic we would like to help you stay safe out there!