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Back pain when driving?

By: staff

Date: Tuesday, 15. August 2006

Like oil and water, driving and back pain are not an ideal mixture. Not only can chronic back pain make life miserable for drivers, particularly if driving is one's occupation, but the very act of sitting in one position for hours on end can aggravate and even be a leading cause of back pain.

According to the Mayo Clinic, back pain is ranked second only to headaches as the most frequent cause of pain. Four out of five adults will experience a bout of back pain at some time in their lives. And, even though back trouble is rarely life-threatening, estimates of its total cost to society range from $20 billion to $50 billion a year in the United States.

Back problems affect all kinds of people, men as much as women and young as well as old. Even among 16 to 24-year-olds, one in three experienced back pain in the past year. It's most common among the middle aged: almost half of those aged 45-64 had back pain in the same period. Young people are more likely to have brief, acute episodes of back pain, while chronic pain is more characteristic of older people. Just over one in four people over the age of 65 suffered back pain for the whole year.

Professor Mark Porter, of Loughborough University in the U.K., believes that cars are responsible for a substantial portion of back ailments in his country. Porter is leading a project called "Reducing Back Pain in High Mileage Drivers," for the Department of Health and the Health and Safety Executive project, together with the ergonomics specialists HJ Consultancy.

In an interview with the London Times , Porter says: "Your back may be telling you a lot about the state of your back and its relationship with your car. And it is worth listening to because it can give you an early warning of serious problems that may start with minor discomfort."

Porter has found that absence from work because of back pain is six times higher for drivers who are at the wheel for more than four hours a day-and with congestion and delays increasing, that means more and more of us.

"Long periods at the wheel can seriously damage your health, particularly if seats do not allow optimum posture and drivers do not 'fit' their cars," he says.

Porter hopes his project will persuade manufacturers to upgrade the specifications of seats and steering wheels. He wants every driver to have, as a minimum, a comfortable, optimum driving posture; as well as the usual adjustments that cars currently offer, the seat cushion should be independently adjustable for height and tilt, and the steering wheel should adjust for rake and reach. Furthermore, the seat structure and upholstery should be better designed to fit the human anatomy.

You might reasonably think that this was done already, but Porter says not. Unfortunately, he says, seating is a styling element, so a good design may be sacrificed to freshen up the look of a car's interior to the detriment of the driver's health. Porter also believes seat suppliers may not become involved sufficiently early with the design of a new car: "Seats are integral to vehicle design. But my understanding is that suppliers sometimes get only scant information on what is needed."

The British emergency support and rescue organization, Green Flag, found from a recent survey of its members that more than one in three male drivers sits with his legs fully extended, which can strain the back muscles as he reaches for the pedals. And almost a third of women sit too close to the wheel, which is also bad for backs.

Establishing the "ideal" driving position is a problem because people's height and weight vary so widely, says Porter. While some people are more comfortable in hard seats, others prefer soft: "If you sit in an armchair watching TV, you subconsciously adopt a variety of postures; you react to a mild amount of discomfort and change position. The best sitting position is always the next one. In a car, that is difficult, but try adjusting the seat to one position for town driving and another for the motorway."

In a pamphlet on back pain, Britain's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says poor ergonomic design is only part of the problem, particularly for occupational drivers, who may spend many hours a day at the wheel of a truck, bus, or industrial and construction machinery. Vibration, says HSE, is another important factor that can lead to injury and disablement.

"Regular exposure to whole-body vibration over many months or years can lead to damage and back pain. The longer you are exposed and the higher the level of whole-body vibration, the greater the chances of you suffering a back injury," HSE writes. "Once you begin to suffer back pain, continued exposure to vibration is likely to make the pain worse."

Hazardous exposure to whole-body vibration can be found in various forms including driving off-road too fast or over a rough route, and driving on badly-paved surfaces in vehicles with poor suspension.

Other factors which can cause or increase back pain include: poor driving posture; poor design of controls making them difficult to operate; poor driver visibility making it necessary to twist and stretch; and personal factors such as level of general fitness, being overweight, and choice of leisure pursuits.

If you drive a lot and suffer from chronic back pain, or even if you wish to forestall the onset of back pain, the application of a little common sense can help. For instance, try to avoid driving for more than two hours without taking a break to stretch your legs. This will help to prevent fatigue, and relax your back. Secondly, try to change your driving position by adjusting the seat from time to time-providing you can still handle the controls safely. Various seat cushions and back supports can be purchased from independent suppliers and one of these may help. Short drivers can purchase pedal extensions from some car manufacturers. On the highways, cruise control can be a useful option.

As already mentioned, personal health plays a major role in alleviating problems in the first place. It's important to avoid being overweight, which places additional strain on the back. And there are all sorts of exercises to strengthen the muscles and increase back flexibility. Disciplines such as tai chi and yoga, for instance, are excellent for toning up the spine and back muscles.

Further comments to this article have been disabled.

All Comments (129)

Showing 1 - 129 comments

Posture Genie,

Lower back pain and driving can be traced to sitting and twisting due to the use of the right leg whilst driving


I have Alto 800 and while driving the car I got the back pain problem and my age is arround 38 I need help to find the best way to support my lower back and seat while I am long distance driving. I would appreciate any help that can be given.

Tigggle,, Sabrina,

Hello, I 've been driving since I was 21. I just recently turned 25. My back issues go way back from when I first began driving. From the lefting in and touching of the freight to sitting upwright in the same postion for at least 12-14 a day on end.

I am too young to have such bad back issues so earlier on. I am most likey going to purchase one of the products aforrementioned. I am just curious as to who bought one before and, was the product effective? I guess you could day I'm looking for a glemour of hope.

If anyone has any type of suggestions please do tell.

Please and Thank You, Sabrina!


...and also have knee problems, they get really stiff and hard to bend in the morning. this job should also come with a wheel chair and s.s.i.. im looking for another job.


my back is wrecked from driving 7,8 or 9 hour days for the last year and a half. i never drove for a living before and didnt realize how many problems you can get from doing that. my lower back hurts all the way up to my head. im 5ft 3, and 155 thick and not fat fyi


ive jst bought an 08 ford mondeo and straight away i,m experiencing lower right side back pain is anyone getting this with this model?


I have had lower back pain and hip pain for the last 2 year I have got pain blocker done but the most pain come for ride in the car my hip locks and my back is burning with pain and I can put perssure on my leg what can I do to stop these need help

ray smith,

ive driven three types of connect vans only one had a good seat which would tilt front and back, then i had the bigger transit no problem. the contract then went to another contracter, the distance from norwich to york, barnsley and back,in a transit connect same seat as the first ever. im getting as before dead leg and back problems.bosses think im moaning.the new bosses i mean.

Graham Hankin,

My wife gets sciatica when she sits in certain cars (she will know within 30minutes its suitability) therefore restricting the choice of cars suitable. Is there any guide to what are the best cars thus far we have found four wheel drives the most comfortable and in this case suitable.

Denise Miller,

I am a school bus driver. I been driving for 8 years and now I can barely walk or even get up the bus steps because of my back, knee's and feet being in so much pain. Unfortunately I have to keep this job to support me and my kids. The drivers seat is so uncomfortable because the lumbar support doesn't reach my lumbar because I read that the seats are designed for men. I am short at 4 foot 10. What do I do?


I was in a serious car accident and have had breaks in my back, have had a hip replacement,etc.I drive a "Ford territory", which i am considering selling due to petrol cost, now I may think again It is so comfortable and I can drive for hours without any pain whatsoever in my body.
The drivers seat is raised up , pedals etc.
I am small and it is so comfy and secure, also so powerful I do not know how I

joerg c. gromoll,

Do you know of any companys that specialize in orthopedic driver seats to possibly exchange the factory delivered seats and if so, please provide details to "". Thank you.
Joerg C. Gromoll


2006 VW Beetle- seat is too concave and has no lumbar support. And why don't auto makers make seats that have neck support? The headrests lean to the front with no cushion for the roll of the neck. I can't understand the people who design these things. It must be the same people who design shoes... they come to a point in the front when it should be the heel that's the pointy side!

Roger Magnall,

I drive a Rover 75 automatic, on journeys over 20 miles I get an acute siatica type pain in my RH rump area, I have tried various remedies, foam cushion under my RH seat position etc. but nothing seems to help. Can anyone offer a possible solution ? Many Thanks.


I have driven a 2000 Zafira Design, where the drivers seat had good height adjustment and an adjustable lumbard support, for 9 years with no problems.

But earlier this year I bought a 2010 Zafira Energy. The drivers seat height adjustment simply raises the back of the seat and tips you foreward, and there is no adjustable lumbar support.
The result - after journeys of over 2 hrs my back started aching, and now I have severe lower back/upper leg problems.

Has anyone else had the same problems with the newer Zafiras??

Jesudas Dayalan,

I read almost every comment of drivers' agony with their backs (2007-2011).It seems almost every driver has a back problem! Almost all cars seem to be responsible for their back pain. But has the auto industry listened to us? Has anyone found a suitable car for people with back problems? Does anyone care for us?


True, they don't make vehicles or anything else, like they use to. It's pretty bad when you never have had trouble driving a vehicle before and buy a new one and you can't walk good when you get out of it because of the seat that is supposed to be an upgrade. There is more cushion on the sides and front, than the back of the seat and therefore, your butt takes the impact when hitting bumps. Something is so wrong when the seat hits the bottom of the seat mechanism on the left, enough to bow the side of the seat out. How can you fix something that is so defective on a new 2010 Silverado Chevrolet Z71 LT Full Cab truck. Back pain, well you sure can't put a seat cushion in this truck because you still sit crooked and slanted no matter how you try to sit straight with good posture.


My Chevrolet truck was purchased 2010 new. The driver seat (six way adjust) started giving trouble. The seat is doing the same thing now as it has done in the beginning and I have spend my time, money in gas and being aggravated because I continue to have problems with the seat. The truck has been in and out of the dealership more times that I have lost count. The lumbar support does not hit my back or anyone's near the lower back. It hits halfway up my back, I am 5'8" a woman, my head comes below the head rest, the seat is tilted down on the left and leans back on the left. The seat is so warped that the seat belt cover will not stay in the clip. The seat will not sit straight for long after the dealership works on it. Now they tell me that they have done everything they could to try to FIX the problem. Hey, the back of the seat keeps slipping down and upon opening the back door in plain sight one can see the seat slanting. I wish I could get someone to help me because I am so tired of all this. Yes, driving for a long time in this seat does hurt my back. They have worked on both seats driver and passenger and now the passenger seat slants down on the right and leans back on the right and does not sit straight. The seat belt would lock you in and you would have to unlatch the belt while the truck was in motion.


Prof. Porter seem to overlook the point that most people do not sit properly at the wheel and therefore have poor posture with equally poor support to the back, in the first place. That should surely be the first line of approach before dealing with seat ergonomics. To my mind, therefore, he seems to be approaching this the wrong way around.


I have very uncomfortable seats in my 2006 Ford Freestar(company vehicle),you can feel the metal in the seat cushion. I have been recently noticing that my right leg and left butt cheek can't find a comfy spot when driving.On a recommendation after reading online about back issues, I used the Carex rubber seat cushion for the 1st time today and realized I have not had any back issues today. I think my car seat has been giving me issues all along. I will post comment later with status on how well or unwell this cushion is working.


Two month ago I purchased a 2011 Hyundai i10 Active, and I now suffer terrible back pain whenever I drive it (or as a passenger). I use a cushion to try and get comfortable, but the vibrations and bumpy ride and lack of back support is such that I am in agony after driving just a short distance. I am now thinking of selling it.


I have had back pain on and off over the past 10 years, but since starting as a sales rep 6 months ago I have experienced really bad pain in my lower to mid back.

I am driving a 2007 VW Golf and so not sure if it is the car or the driving that is causing the pain? Anyone else experienced pain from the same car?


Hi. I have been a Sales Rep driving between 34 and 50,000 miles per year. I developed a problem where I couldn't stand on my feet properly first thing in the morning or after long journeys. It was almost crippling - no back pain tho! I got made redundant and had a year out and everything returned to normal. I am about to re-enter a sales job again and am worried this problem may re-occur. Any idea for avoidance would be well received!!!! help!!!!!!


my wife and I own a 2008 mittz 380 vr x we would love the car if only we could sit in it and drive the truely otherwise car. we experience crippeling back pain and leg pains when in the ajustable front seats. said to be state of the arts bucket seats. we cant use vehicle at all.are there interchangeable bucket seats for our 380 . cushions dont relieve either.ben


this is for the knee locking up problem , mic's post below of 2/4/11., it might help if you move the seat a bit back so the lower thigh sits on the seat a bit better...just a suggestion; it helped me with the same problem, in addition to the back/neck one..

Laura Morgan,

I am a back care specialist (Osteomyologist) and have been finding solutions to back pain associated with driving for over 10 years. It is a shame that the design of car seats is usually based on looks rather than function, but the car industry are aware and things are improving. In the meantime, I have found a super back support especially for cars, tried and tested by myself and over a hundred clients! You can 'try before you buy' if you are local to me (Gloucestershire) plus I am happy to post to you. They are £40 (plus postage) and last a lifetime because they are solid inside. 'Sit up' is not good posture. If you understand what good posture really means and how to create it for yourself, sorting your car out becomes easy. It's not rocket science and you can help yourself, even if your car says otherwise! I am happy to answer any questions on the phone, on back care and cars, vans, tractors...! 01452 849167 or 07790 024741. My Back Care Centre is on facebook: Hits the Spot Natural Health & Back Care Centre. Do something about it! Laura.

Carl Reader,

I am a Biokineticist from South Africa, which is similar to a physical Therapist and specialise in dealing with back pain in driving.

I have designed a small portable cushion called back up. The cushion supports your pelvis while driving which relieves lower back pain and tension.
For more info about the cushion you can email me at


I used to be able to drive 14-16 hrs. Now i drive for ten minutes and theres a dull nagging pain on my left side under my arm about half way up from my belt to my armpit. It goes away when i stop and go for a little walk.Bang its back again after 5-10 minutes behind the wheel. I haven't seen my doc but i.ll have to i guess. Maybe someone can help.

Mary B,

I changed cars to a Volvo S40 whilst no problems with the car. The recaro driver seat is causing me severe knee pain and swelling despite having altered the seat position several times any suggestions as to what I can do??


I had an extruded disc in my lower back and have researched the issue as well as spoken to multiple spine surgeons (due to my profession, I regularly retain them as experts). The consensus seems to be that your hips should be at or above your knees and that the seat should be as high as possible to avoid straightening your legs to reach the pedal/brake. Of course, the vibration is also a factor.

Unfortunately, I haven't found any cars which fit these criteria. Has anyone else?


To richard M.
I googled "toyota seats give me a backache" and found your entry. Just bought an older highlander today. Already have a backache! Had an older avalon and had to by an additional backrest. Solved the problem and will go out and get an additional one for the highlander...

paul spellman,

iv had repeated back problems,and am a black taxi driver by trade,and have dove pilates since a back op in 2008.


I have just started a new job as of three months ago and due to the economy, I had been out of work for some time, but decided to take a job that was two hours away (one way) making it a 4 hour round trip. I was born with Spina Bifida Oculta, which is the lesser of severity for the Spina Bifida and has never given me any problems...until now. I also work at a job where I sit for 10.50 hours a day, so I am sitting for 14.50 hours in one day. My lower lumbar area of my back is now miserable and am now looking for a car that would be the most comfortable. I am also 5 foot 3 inches and also have bad knees so I need a car that is comfortable, doesn't bounce around, is easy to get in and out of (the bad knees part) and has comfortable seating. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thank you


I drive a Hyundai Elantra GLS and the seat is not very comfortable (it has two adjustable turning things and a lumbar support, but the seat still causes me low back problem, tight hip flexors, my right knee locks up after I drive and the knee just feels weird when i get out of the car & try to walk. I take herbal quinine (Hyland or CVS brand Leg Cramp formula) or drink diet tonic water before I drive to try to alleviate some of the leg/hip spasm, but it doesn't help that much. I'm going to try to get a cushion or one of those wooden bead/plated things.

richard M.,

I drive a 2009 Corolla. the driver seat kills my back. At the age of 65, This is the first car that I can complain about. I am looking to replace the driver side front seat. Do you have any suggestions?


I drive 50Tonne Toro's underground 12hr shifts 14 day roster. Ive been only driving UG for a year and have had major pain right side of my leg following lower back pain.We dont have any suspension in the seats due to bandit maintenance of the heavy equipment and have constantly used this in a hazard report due to safety always following up on this matter with OSH for months now there is an overwhelming cause of back problems that people are taken more time off work.


Is a car or van better for a disabled elderly person?


most automobile manufacters are to dumb to know u.s. hiways are sloped down to right raise suspension 1 in higher on right side &you will be level on hiway then your spine will be straight no pain they need to make seats with no gap between top&bottom cushions they need shaped like 50)s diner booth &firm so only caved in spot is weight of body not manufactered hole like in bucket


Is believe a vehicle should have the supension raised 1 inch higher on the right side then the left to compensate for the slope on most us hiways and engine torque in class 8 trucks I went to chiropractor 11 times 4 years ago then raised right front spring 1 inch with a spacer have not had back pain until I got new peterbuilt truck 1 week ago that is not higher on right now my back hurts so am going to raise right side before I have to go to doctor


I have been driving for almost 3 years 250 miles per day.Sorry my inglish is not good. Every 3 month my company change the car. I drived diferent types of cars, I never had back pain when drived toyota avalon and corola, nissan altima and ford focus but due budget in february of 2010 I started driving cheaper cars when drived chevy cobalt and hhr I started suffering from back pain. Now I am driving a hyundai and still have it. I use a back support belt like model 1DM-629-7-XL-2, that reduce the vibration. I spent money in seat caushions, I even baught a new mattress but definitly is the driver proffesion the cause of pain.


I need help to find the best way to support my lower back and seat while I am long distance driving. I would appreciate any help that can be given.

Many Thanks:


no response yet to my sienna problem;hope someone can help..

my previous vehicle was a plymouth voyager 97; prior to that , toyota tercel 1980 and one more tercel which was also a 1980. no problem at all in those vehicles even if you drive long distances...


Great to know that research is taking place regarding car seats. This has been a major problem for me for many years with a longstanding back weakness. My current vehile Volvo S40, whilst being excellent in every other way, has really awful seats and the passenger seat is worse than the driver. The seat adjusts well but there is insufficient padding on the seat cushion and the design is not good. I am desperate to find a vehicle that I can drive for more than half an hour without suffering back pain which will then continue for several days. Any Ideas?


Nissan Versa 2008 best driver seat that I have found so far for minimizing lower back pain and related issues.


I have lower back pain and my right shoulder always hurts after an hour of driving. I am only 17 and its been happening since I started driving when I was 16. Any recomendations ?


Anybody have trouble with leg pain and numbness while driving. experiencxe it in bmw 3 series wagon


I have a Volvo C70 and began experiencing sciatica right after I bought the car. Driving has become excruciating while other activities I have minimal pain. I have tried adjusting the car seat every way I can think of and it is still painful.

Jenni Case,

I can appreciate this post as a medical massage therapist!! I see client after client with low back pain that I believe is only further aggravated by driving. I tell my clients to stretch before and after driving to reduce irritation to the muscles.


I am a Physical Therapist and I have helped many of my patients gain significant relief of back pain by finding the source of their back pain and not just treating the symptoms (pain, tingling, numbness, etc.). I also properly adjust their car seat and/or have them purchase seat cushions or back supports for optimal comfort. I recommend asking your doctor for a physical therapy consult. Look for a PT specializing in orthopedics. Good Luck!

Samson Anawine,

I have back pain and I believe my car is the cause. How can the seat adjustment be a remedy?


I am driving a taxi for about 2 1/2 years, The last three month my upper back and lower back hurt all the time triggered by driving but little relief anymore, going to a chiropractor but isn't helping, maybe even worse. What should I do? The pain is getting unbearable


i have very pain ful back pain last 4 years

George Callas,

I am on the road a lot. Never had a back problem that didn't quickly correct itself but lately, I can't even drive a short distance without having to stop and "walk around the car 3 or times". I don't know how I'm going to fix this problem, but the Dr. told me I need to have my right hip replaced. I will detail the progress of my recovery in the hope it helps others. In the meantime it is certainly a big pain the ass not to be able to drive long distances or take weekend trips like I used to.


Hemet, California


i use a 2008 sienna and am unable to find which is the best position for the driver seat; either my lower back hurts , or after some adjustments, the neck begins to hurt and the back pain goes away;its either the lower back or the neck..almost a year of regular driving, but still i keep on adjusting the seat...anyone driving this vehicle, can you give your input..or any ideas how to adjust? i am 5' 10" 174lb. thanks.


All very helpful!-Thankyou
I am a musician who had a hip replacement in July.I have since had terrible periods of back pain(especially when driving)I have it at the moment and get sinister thoughts which make me acutely anxious.
I did have a bad car accident when I wasin my twenties in which I did some damage to my back?I have had this current episode of pain for 4 weeks(nerve pain)


I bought a toyota 4runner and tried to take it back the very next morning. My back hurts so bad when I drive it I hate to drive it down the road! I never had back pains until now.


While taking a break repeatative extension of low back for like ten times in standin position may also help, though this may be unconfortable for some individuals.also one should make sure he/she had a nap if he/she realise need it becouse it is dengerous to cheat nature.


While taking a break repeatative extension of low back for like ten times in standin position may also help, though this may be unconfortable for some individuals.Also one should make sure he/she had a nap if he/she realises it is nacessary becouse it is dengerous to cheat nature.




Taxi driver 6'4"

2004 skoda superb 12 hour shifts 8/10

2006 toyota avensis sore backside,and sore knee due to heavy clutch,after 12 hour shifts 6/10

2006 volgswagen transporter sore knee heavy clutch,sore lower back, crap seats

2007 peugeot e7 new shape(fiat panorama)
12 hour shifts 9/10 lower back pain after very long hours!

forgot all about sore back,knees and purchased renault trafic(idiot)

2008 renault trafic sore upper back crap seats and no tilt on steering wheel
1/10 could not manage 12 hour shift.
Tried 6 types of cushion/back support and custom base for seat more money wasted. sold
2008 ford tourneo connect test drove for 4 hours seemed ok should of hired for a week.right hip hurts beyond belief,shoulders ache,wrists ache,lower back ache 8 hour shifts. Has any one tried recaro orthopedic seats as cant afford to change vehicle this time.


Currently driving a BMW 5 Series - had it for 3 years and do 4 hours driving 4 days a week. I have never felt so much pain down the right side of my leg. Had an MRI done recently and found out I have protrusion from L4-L5. Am desperately looking for a comfortable car with street cred? Any ideas? PS. I live in the uk. Also, any ideas on how to get rid of this pain in general?


I bought Honda Accord 2009 in November and started the same pain like you described R side sceatic pain. Before that I was driving Ford Taurus and never had such a pain. I am wondering whether you found any solution ( modifying driver's seat or medical).


I tried Obus forme. It really helped

Justin mcmullan,

I drive all day every day I'm 19. my back hurt so bad i could barley walk... I'm in shape whats the deal i have tried moveing around the seat and my body.. getting out and streatching any ideas .......


Justin, the Accord had a manual brake lever on the left side of the console that digs into my right knee area, restricting my right hip range of motion. I think the power seat on the 2010 Altima has much more room for the knees to spread with no manual brake lever in the way. imho

Walter H.,

hard to figure but the most obvious thing to check is gas pedal position and heel position on the floor. You might try some adjustments.


but do you think after almost a year of driving the same car you should still be feeling a muscle tension in the calf of your leg (gas pedal leg)? This is what I did not quite understand because I figured by now I shouldn't have any muscle aches in my daily day to day driving.

Walter H.,

Problems with muscles are common for drivers using manual shift for the first time.

Muscles of the left leg, not being used to this kind of continual action, are the first to react, expecially for drivers who keep their left foot over the clutch pedal a lot. The left foot should always move back to the 'dead pedal' following a shift.

Most cars now have a Dead Pedal area to rest the left foot. Bracing the left foot against the dead pedal area not only gives better control but also takes pressure off the right foot, which is almost all the time over the gas pedal.

With the gas pedal, it's not the space to the right near the console that matters it's pedal design and how easily your heel rests on the floor.

Once again, use of the gas pedal is a little different with manual shift so you may feel more tension at first until you get used to it.


About 9 months ago I leased a new 09 Honda Accord with the cloth interior seats. It is a Manual. For awhile My left (clutch leg) was bothering me and I figured this was dude to the constant clutching that I was not used to. Before this car I always drove automatics. Now it seems that problem isn't so severe but now its my right leg that i use on the gas pedal. I noticed that the center console is pretty close to the gas pedal and there is not much room for movement to the right of the pedal. Also I wanted to get the front of my seat to tilt down more then it does, but the seat wont allow to do so. Its a pretty good car otherwise but I just cant seem to get comfortable in it and I find myself moving the seat around constantly to try to find the position I will be most comfortable in. The constant irritating pain in my right calf muscle is very irritating and im not sure on what my solution will be for this. Does anyone else have a similar problem with this car or issue? Let me know im curious


some time ago i had continual problems with back pain while driving. I thought the seat was out of alignment but the pain persisted when I changed cars, and even in a rental car.

Then I read somewhere that some back pain problems people were having were due to people sitting on their (very thick) wallets.

Guess what, I stopped doing that and the pain stopped. Not saying this would work for anyone else but it did for me.


My pain began 6 mnths ago and is slowly getting worse. Drivng s the worst! Even 10 minutes makes it start and it's downhill from there.

1 doctor says it is sciatic nerve root from bulging disc and 2 others say hamstrings. Pain initially in R. Hip joint but ultimately starts in the back of my thigh and if I continue to drive past the pain it can make my rigt foot numb.

Walking or getting up makes it go away..only sitting hurts me. I can walk 3 miles or work out on Nautilus, no proble but driving is killing me.




6' 1", 180 lbs and work out regularly, but got upper back and neck pain in 2005 Toyota Prius. What a great car in many ways, but after a year of driving about 80 miles a day between schools, I couldn't take the pain anymore. I tried all sorts of different positions and pillows to no avail. The seat is too short for thigh support, no lumbar support, curves concavely to make me hunch over to see out the front window at lights. Toyota says no problem reported! The 2001 looks interesting with electric multi-position seat, but I can't afford to take the risk. My used 2000 S-80 Volvo has been very comfy, but poor milage. Car makers, you can do better than this.

mathew p,

I am 34 years old and when I started driving my partners 2000 Subaru Forester I began having pain deep and dull in my left hip. It is a manual. When I drive my jeep this does not happen. Only when I drive the subaru does this happen. Great care but very hard on the hip. We stopped driving it completely and we are looking at the knew models. We still are not sure what to buy. Subaru would not want to admit there were problems, obviously, but there is something wrong with the seat. My partner is now in physical therapy for a hip injury and we realize now all this time it has been the car seat.

Michael G,

I had a Subaru outback 06 which caused horrific pain in my back and buttocks and in my upper hip area. I had to buy a 300 dollar insert from a medical supply store for correct driving posture. It helped, but I never had a relaxed feeling behind the wheel. It is a shame, a good car, but horrible horrible seats. I looked at the 2010 model and it looks like the seats are different, but I dont trust them and fear they will be equally painful.


Almost all car seats today are too convex right at the center of the back for my liking. I wish the seat backs were flat from top to bottom, like in the 60's. Who makes a really good car seat?? thanx


I bought a new car this summer after trying many for comfort with back and hip problems. I found that the Mitsubishi Outlander had the most comfortable seat for me. I'm short and with my hip didn't want to be climbing down into a car or up out of it. Several months later still love the seat and also finding other things that are good about it.


Would getting one of those mattress covers that are very dense help absorb some of the vibration. My upper back is really a problem and I have an hour commute each way each day.


I was surfing the web to find out about my low back pain and my 2007 Outback. Like other posts, after 30-45 minutes, I experience pain/numbness in the right cheek and low back discomfort. I have other friends in their mid 50's, all of whom report "Subaru Back". Three of them own Outbacks and one has a 2 year old Forrester. I wrote Subaru, who said that they had not heard of any issues. Here's my theory, at least in part. The center console leaves very little room immediately to the right of the gas pedal. I order to have sufficient room for my right leg, at least to allow for some movement, I have to sit crooked on the seat; hence not being planed parallel to the dash. I have tried all sorts of cushions to no avail. Oddly, I can ride for long periods in the front passenger seat without any problems. Although I like the Outback for many other good reasons, I will have to sell it. What good is a car if I have to get out every 30 minutes and pop the aspirin?


I am presently in the market for a new car. I have owned 2 corollas (the 80's) an accord 90's 1999CamryLE Engine went So I checked out new models Horrible back pain Camry 07-new 2110 Corolla even worse. Corolla 07/08 a little better Do not know what to do When it comes to comfort so many older models seem better. They are all for sale with way too much mileage I tried the smaller SUV's Rav4 CRV but the ride was a tad too rough on my back but the seating was much better. I am only 5'2" so I need to find a seat and a car that will work for me. I am 58 no more bouncing around in a car having a bad back. My Mother who has Altzheimers commented on how bumpy the 2009 Corolla is...she does not notice much these days but she noticed this. Never a comment in my old 1999 Camry. Any suggestions on what car to buy?


If your car seat gives you a problem it's either the seat or your posture. investigate both. For posture make sure you have set the seat position and steering wheel position for your best posture.
check posture info here


had the same problem as don with two different cars. The seat back always felt twisted.In one case it actually was. However, i got over the problem by using an Obusforme, which cost me about $120.


I own a Volvo S60 medium size sedan and seats are very uncomfortable that after 15 minutes drive, it gets really painful. has anyone have same type of problems? if so how had you solve your problem? any input on this will be very much appreciated.


Nigel Hunter,

Hello everyone. I have just brought a Chrysler Sebring crd ltd. After two days ownership my lower back is in agony. My last car was a saab 93, very comfortable seats, never a moments problem.Does anybody else suffer from cheap Sebring seat syndrome?
Has anybody got any ideas of how to make it more comfortable


I suffer from a chronic disc problem (had an MRI diagnosis). Was told the best thing to do was avoid pain by not irritating it and it would probably improve. However, that proved to be extremely difficult since I drive a fair bit. The backrest of the drivers seat always felt as if it were twisted. Got another car and same thing. so I'm not sure if was just the sensation or both cars had a problem.

I wonder how much design effort goes into this on the part of manufacturers. Maybe we drivers are at fault too if we select softness over firmness and good design when purchasing. Current car has no problem (It's a Nissan).

Heard a tip for guys - "don't sit on your wallet" especially if it is bulky.It tends to twist the spine. That was a very good tip. That definitely helped.


I bought a 2007 Nissan Murano a month ago and started to experience lower back pain. I traded it in for a 2007 Infiniti FX35 and still experience the back pain. I was hoping it would be better because the seats "hug" your back more, but it's not much better, only slightly. I've never had back problems until now, so it's frustrating. I can't even drive in comfort AT ALL. After reading all this "bulging disk" talk I may go in to have an MRI done. Also, I will make sure my butt is higher than my legs to see if it makes a diff.



I drive a Jeep Cherokee (SUV) and two weeks ago, started a right leg discomfort. It started in my inner thigh which would be followed by urge to scratch the groiny area (right leg side). Nowadays, even when sitting and not driving, am experiencing some discomfort which only does away when my leg is at 90 degrees angle. This discomfort is even causing some lower leg numbness but it all worsens when driving... especially if I drive a sedan, which I ocasionally do. Guys, is there any medication, specific prescription or exercise that can make the pain ease if not go away apart from changing the driver`s seat?


I want to thank you all for all your posts! They have been so helpful. I'm about to have my 6th spine surgery and I need a new car due to increased back pain. My C4-C7 are fused after three different surgeries & my L2-3 are fused after two surgeries. Now my L3-4 & 4-5 are about to be fused. . My problem now is that I can't get into my car (Volvo V70 sedan) without extreme pain. Any thoughts on SUV's or Minivans that might be ok?


To: Alan
Same thing with Sub Outback. I believe it's a car issue. Try to drive an SUV and you will see that a problem will go away after some time. But, it will not go away 100% anymore.


I am a taxi driver driving , beleive it or not, 80000 miles a year, 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. For the past year i have been driving the new peugeot expert E7 taxi. The seat is much higher from the road surface than in normal mpvs, which means that every time I get in or out of the cab I have to twist my right leg into an awkward position to reach either the road or moreso the floor of the cab on entering. I get a sharp pain in all parts of my hip as I hit the seat. The pain has only started since I started driving this model. The pain is in the back and side of the hip and also in the groin. Sometimes when walking slowly or standing my right leg almost gives out and I look and feel like someone with chronic, extremely bad hip problems. I also have been getting really bad calf muscle stiffness especially in the morning when I first get out of bed, I can barely walk at all for the first few minutes. The whole situation is becoming very painful, stiff and worrying....any ideas????


Few monts after I purchased Subaru Outback I developed pain in the right leg and lower back. It's not going away and after just about 45min-1 hour of driving I can feel my leg and lower back is going out of control. I have to agree with the comments from Tommy, that it's probably the sits. Otherwise, it's a great car.



I had a very similar buttox pain problem as what you described above - I started driving a Subaru Outback 1.5 yrs ago and started developing pain in my right buttox. Having gone through numerous PT, MRI, Cortizone the butt pain has mostly receded, except the pain is now concentrating around my lower back (L5). I do believe the seat position of the Subaru contributed to the problem (I can drive for much longer hours in my Audi without similar pain)


two years ago i start driving a BMW525,new model,and at the moment i like to much.After few months developing back pain and one month before i can't sit more then 30min on the driver chair of BMW. MY MRI show bulging disck L4-L5.I change mine with the car of my husband,Citroen,and definitely see big diferent.


I'm 6'1" and I bought a Chevy Cobalt two months ago. No matter how I sit, my right leg just flares up after about half an hour of driving. When I jog or practice martial arts, it takes me about half an hour of stretching before my leg feels supple enough to start a workout. I have come to dread the moment I have to step into the car and curse the lack of attention I paid during the test drive. I can't really afford to change cars for now and I wish I could get a good tip on how to adjust the seat.


I had a Ford Explorer that caused lower back pain. Since then I have been driving a Mercedes ML SUV for many years until it died from high milage. These were the best seats. My knees were not up in the air and the whole length of my thigh was supported. I bought a new 4runner and it is killing me. At the highest position, the seat platform is 3" lower that the ML, which puts strain on my back. I am 5' 11'.My wife has a bad back and when she was having problems she would actually go sit in the new ML to get relief. They are very hard seats when you first sit down, but after a few moments they are extremely comfortable regardless of the distance driven. She has an ML,but due to the economy, I am painfully stuck with the Toyota. Everything else about the car I like. I believe many of the people with Camary's and Subaru's suffer from the same positional problem causing pain. In my opinion the hips, thighs and knees need to be supported and level with adequate back support to take the pressure off the lower lumbar-sacral spine. I do not have back problems, but I do have pain now because of the design of the Toyota seats.


I am suffering frm a protrusion at my L1, that i think was caused by a broken lumbar support in a tractor truck seat. The support has two plastic bars that bend in and out (adjustable) the run up and down the seat. the one on the right side of the seat wast boken, leaving me with only the left side for support. The roads in Houston Tx, are quite rough. I may have been subject to this position for 6 months or more. I work 10 to 15 hours a day. The neurologist that I have seen says there is no way a broken seat has cause my injury. Any Help??


I, too, began experiencing pain in my right buttox while driving my Mercury Grand Marquis. At first, the pain appeared after I had been driving for several hours. I didn't think much about the source until I got a '96 Jeep Grand Cherokee and noticed that the pain did not happen until I had been driving for a long time, say 4 to 5 hours. I'm pretty sure that the pain was the result of having to sit sort of sideways in the Grand Marquis. Then I got a Chrysler Sebring convertible and noticed the return of the pain once I had been driving for several hours. These days, my hip and leg begin hurting once I have been driving for as little as ten minutes.

The pain begins deep in my right buttox area and then radiates to my thigh, my knee, and then to my shin bone. It honestly feels like someone is pulling the bone out of my leg.

Any ideas?


I purchased a 2006 Toyota Camry thinking it was engineered to be Great as far as a car goes. Little did I know how much suffering my right leg would endure. Pain even on short 30 min trips. Even when I used the cruise control still pain and soreness.
I think the engineers should look at these seats and fix the problem ,and personally I think power seats should be manditory . It would be nice if they offered a correctly designed aftermarket seat for this car ,but I will probabally sell the car and buy a GM before that happens.


emma, had this problem and found that an Obusform seat solved it for me.


I have been suffering from hip and lower back pain since I bought my Fiat Punto about four years ago. It started in my left hip but is now in my right hip too. I sit down at work alot and am suffering because of this. I have driven about 70,000 miles in 4 years I think this has added to my discomfort and am in pain through the shape of the seat in my car. does anyone know if I can change the seat in my car and where to get a good seat, or do I have to change the car?


I had the same problem as Angee. Eventually I bought the Obus Form seat which worked pretty well for quite a while. However, problems returned. Now I've found that a good exercise problem seems to be the answer.


Can anyone help me find a new car in which I can be driven comfortably as a passenger in the front passenger seat? I have worked as a secretary for over 45 years and typing & computing have taken their toll on my neck and upper back and shoulders. I have had physio and tests and nothing drastically wrong has been discovered. Three years ago (after six wonderful painfree years of motoring both in the UK and in Europe) we changed our Mondeo ST24 because it was ageing and have since owned an Audi A3 a Mondeo Titanium X a Series 1 BMW and having sold all three because of back discomforts used a small but old Peugot 306 - all totally uncomfortable. We purchased the new Nissan Qashquai some eighteen months ago and this is definitely the most comfortable car we have owned in 3 years (since the ST24) but far from perfect. The seating position is ideal but unfortunately the car tends to 'leap' on our British uneven roads. However we actually visited London last weekend and I survived - albeit with the use of a tens machine. This is the longest journey I have managed to undertake in three years! Today we have tested the new Ford Fiesta but alas to no avail. I don't think there is a car which we haven't tested now in which I can drive in comfort for more than an hour (although we hired a new Corsa 1.4 in Germany for a week which was not too bad - but I would like a larger car!!!). Any ideas please? (I've tried cushions and back rolls too..... I do not suffer the same pain when driving the car - but I am not the main driver - and prefer it that way! My husband is so frustrated!!!! and NO it's not in my head - it's definitely in my back!

towncar backache,

Would you like to enjoy disability payments from the government ? Try a Lincoln Town car with slippery leather seats. Designed folks as tall as 6'5' and about 780 ponds. It is like a lazy boy on wheels. Good to watch TV but not good to control a 5 liter engine, even in air suspension.


Judy, I got rid of our forester because of the poor seat and driving position it offered. Was really disappointed because otherwise it was a great car. We now have a not as good Ford Focus but it has a great driving pos. Adjustable reach steering colummns should be mandatory!
I have to drive a Toyota Hiace van for work, and it is killing me! I'm 6'2" and I simply cannot get comfortable behind the wheel; the seat doesn't go back far enough for starters. A physio has looked at the seating pos and said 'no wonder you're in pain'. My boss said 'bad luck'. Anyone got any ideas for this situation?


I bought a new 2005 Subaru Forester (LL Bean) with leather seats (somewhat a bucket seat). At the time, I was commuting about one hour to and from work. Within 6 months, I started to notice issues with my neck ROM as well as left sided hip/back pain. I suspected the car, but thought maybe it could be other issues I had (mild scoliosis), too. Now 3 years later, still driving the car (which I even paid off!) and am sure that sitting in my Subaru triggers extreme pain. I've had confirmation through an MRI of disk bulging in L3-L4, L4-L5 and L5-S1. I am also waiting for results from hip Xrays from last week. But I can't argue with the fact that sitting really aggravates the pain. Standing or lying is fine. I've tried sitting on cushions (tempurpedic) which can help some, but since I travel for my job, I'm in a real difficult situation. At least I'm no longer commuting 5 days a week. I am currently trying to find a car that provides better seating support so open to any suggestions. Thanks

Andy Q8,

Depending on where you are in the world, I would recommend the GMC Acadia. I lived in the UK and now am in the Middle East. I have driven so many different models over the years, but the combination of suspension and upright,stable seats is a winner for me.
Totally agree with Janine - I got a 2007 Camry and suffered loads. Sort it out Toyota!


Never had any problem while driving my old 1995 buick skylark. One month ago I switched to a 2006 toyota camry and even when I drive short distances I feel discomfort and pain in my right leg. Tried changing the seat position or twisting my leg while driving, but none of this has worked so far.

brian t,

I have this lower back pain every time I drive short or long distence I`m thinking of byeing a honda crv because of the upright seats and good suspention.Has anybody any other cars thay might suggest


I injured my hamstring playing sport over a year ago and struggled for the whole year with this injury trying to get back to full fitness. At approx the same time i started a new job which involes at least 4 hours driving during the day. I started getting this pain down my left leg which during the year got worse and more and more uncomfortable each day. Getting through a day without the constant pain was a victory. Ive got an MRI on my spine and it didnt show any damage to my discs or spine but this daily pain down my leg does not go away. I dont know what to do?


Yeah, Mike that does look interesting. I hope it becomes available soon!


I've had somewhat the same problem as Peter with low car and knee pain. I think much of it came from putting my weight on one foot and then twisting to get in or out. I think my next vehicle will be an SUV, but an economical one.


I currently drive a Mercedes 180. I find the seat very low which is giving me a great deal of pain. Iam short which is part of the problem so, to get in an out I have to twist my body which is causing the problem. Could any one recommend a car with a high driving seat? I thought of a 4x4 but feel embaressed in these days of climet change and the enviroment

Any suggestion of cars please


I have experienced much back pain in my life and like others have found that driving can certainly exasperate the discomfort. I have found that driving a vehicle in which the seat is both upright and higher (ie: mini-van, SUV) rather than a sedan will allow you to drive in better comfort. The key is getting your butt up higher than your legs so that the weight of your legs do not press back onto your lower spine. Think in terms of the difference your back feels when you sit upright in a chair versus lying back in low level couch with less support. Now if I could only find a small car with seat like I described that I can afford.


My personal experience with back pain says do the right exercises, don't be overweight, eat right.

Oh, and check out the "Back Doctor", Hamiltn Hall

Mike Son,

I am a London Taxi Driver with serious back problems. Other that giving up the job which a enjoy, what remedy’s can be suggested.


I started a new job where 2 to 3 hours of driving is required daily. i started out fine but after a couple weeks i started to upper back pain near my right shoulder. should i get a back pillow w/ lower thoracic support? do these pillows give you proper driving posture?


I have been suffering lower back pain and numbness in my legs for over 4 years now from my company car. the only solution i have found so far is either not to drive it or to take a break every hour and walk around for 10-15 mins.
the strange thing is it is only in the Vauxhall Vectra and Astra i have been using. All my private cars ranging from a Daihatsu Fourtrak to an Opel Manta i have had over this time have never been a problem.
Whilst modern manufacturers are providing more adjustment in the seats they are failing to look at the basic ergonomics behind the wheel and taking in to consideration we are all a different shape and size.


I have lower back pain while driving
a short distance, lets say a half hour or so, I cannot go on a long trip without taking brecks along the way.
ISthere something that I can buy over the internet to put in the seat to help stop the discomfort?


Emma, I believe some of the car companies have services that adapt cars for special needs and custom requirements. You should talk to your dear, or call the manyfacturer customer service.


I'm five foot and find I often have to sit crookedly to reach the pedals in cars and this gives me back pian. Does anyone know which cars are best for me???? I'm sure my Ford Ka encourages me to sit crookedly though I can reach the pedals in that!



I have had four back surgeries, two of them were fusions,and I have a pretty bad back problem. To me after driving every supposedly comfortable car, the one that has the best ride is the Lincoln Town Car, the air suspension helps with the little bumps and jolts that aggravate a bad back. I've tried out several cars trying to go with a smaller car, but I have to go back to the Town Car, it really is the best. Marie


I have experienced lower back pain most of my life when driving long distance. In the last few months I have started to have pains in my right leg when driving even fairly short distances. I have also experienced this leg pain when sitting through a movie. I am wondering if I may have a pinched nerve which is causing this. I know watching my posture while sitting in the car is important, but is there some sort of a back support that can be used to help this. Also is there some diatery cause that could contribute to the problem. Any recommendation for this?
This has become such a problem I have to limit my driving and get someone to drive for me when possible.
Thanks for any suggestions.


I have 3 bulging disc's at t8-9, t11-12
t12-L1 I suffered a severe fall from 14' and suffered a t9 wedge fracture
my tailbone looks deformed as I had much swelling ( felt like I had a dogtail sticking out of my butt)

It has been over 2 years and I still cannot sit without pain?

I have had a mri which showed the probelms in my thoracic, and had further mri of coccyx/sacrum the resultd were ............
Fracture not identified but loss of disc signal at lumbo sacral Junction

Will I ever get out of pain?



If your seat is OK ergonomically then I would look to posture. Are you sitting properly and using the controls properly.


I have recently started driving. For the first few weeks I was fine, now even after a short 10 minute journey to work I am noticing a pain in my right hip. I drive a fiat punto (uk right hand drive) With Lumbar support. It only happens when I am driving & the pain goes after 30 mins or so after my journey. I was wondering if anyone else has any problems with hips whilst driving.


Personally, I think the best solution to back problems is good posture, and that means knowing how to sit and building the muscle strenght to sit that way ALL the time - no slouching!

Don't drive too long. If you find yourself slouching, stop and take a little walk for a while.

However, some seats make good posture difficult. Soft seats are not good. Lot's of people sink into a nice soft seat and think it's great but after a while the back ache comes.

A nice firm seat is best, and if it is shaped the right way that's even better. One solution that worked well for me is the ergonomically designed "Obus form" seat. I just fixed it in place and left it in the drivers seat.


I, too, suffer low back pain (bulging disc) from driving. Exercises are good, but finding a car that has better back support is necessary to avoid continued damage. I'm looking for another car and have read dozens of car reviews, but have found nothing more than a casual comment about overall comfort - not a real opinion about real back support by someone who knows. Low back pain is such a common problem - it seems like it would be easier to find a suggestion or two about which cars are better for those of us with bad backs.

Where to look? Anybody???

Jonathan Daniel,

Dear Judy,
I am a Physiotherapist working in the uk. It sounds very much like you are suffering from a bulging disc in your low back which is irritating the nerves that exit from your spine and travel down your leg. You are describing classic symptoms of this condition. I am currently setting up a low back exercise class for industrial drivers who spend up to 12 hours a day driving. They tend to suffer from bulging discs due to the amount of time spent sitting.
I would get checked out by a physiotherapist who can advise you on exercises and postural advice to try and help your pain.
Good luck, Jon


I have had pain in the leg and now back pain due to driving my 2005 Ford Escort (leather seats).The problem, I believe, comes from the driver and passenger seats not being able to sit straight up, but most importantly is that the seat was higher up on one side when it was purchased from the car lot. I think a very heavy person test drove it and it weighted down the left side of the seat. This has caused me pain which first began in the lower leg and knee and has now travelled to my hip and lower back. My pain as of late is not when I'm driving, but for several days after driving, so that I'm nearly unable to get up out of a chair and so that I'm very uncomfortable when sitting or walking for several days after driving the car. I've tried to use the lumbar support which comes with the car, but it only makes me feel nauseous.
I was much more comfortable in my old 1994 Ford Escort wagon which had cloth seats that were able to adjust to a straight position.
What's odd is that my young adult son who has been recovering from a right-sided stroke
has sever pain in his right leg while driving his 2005 Ford Focus Wagon. I used to be able to drive his car before I got my car. Now I find that I can't even drive his car as it causes me pain while driving!
Do you have information telling about the various seat manufacturers for the old cars like my 1994 Escort, versus the new seat manufacturers, which seem to have caused us tremendous pain. Neither one of us ever had the pain driving our older cars (me-the 1994 Ford Escort, and my son had a 1998 Mercury Tracer).
We are both very tall--especially my son and he is scrunched in the car like the cartoon character, "Marmaduke the dog".
I am looking at SUV's, and yet find it too expensive, however, my situation is deteriorating where it seems to be crippling me, and my son has to drive in cruise control in traffic to help alleviate his pain, and I have felt the need to help him by driving him back and forth a long way to his work, and then have to drive my car quite a distance to teach, so all in all it is becoming quite a painful experience for both of us.
Do you know of any car recommendations or car magazines that are truthful regarding car types with the better or poorer seating positions of cars? Thank you.

Steve Linton,

What are some of the best new and used vehicals for chronic lower back pain and disc problems?

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