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As of very recently, I have a longer commute – one hour each direction. It is giving me sciatica and I have barely been taking the new route yet. What are some strategies to reduce pain from spending a long time in your vehicle?

I have an old injury that is aggravated by long periods sitting down. Regular exercise helps but the commute is stealing my gym time right now. The commute is likely temporary but until I can change it, this is going to become intractible soon. Please hope me.

posted bycrunchy potatotoHealth & Fitness(16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Does your route allow for a midpoint break? Can you pull over somewhere and get a coffee or something that lets you get out of your car and walk for a bit? It would, unfortunately, extend commute time but it might be worth it to have a 15min break from sitting, if possible.
posted byacidnova at6:16 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]

Take your wallet out of your back pocket. I get sciatica if I leave it on long drives
posted bydripdripdrop at6:29 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]

Is there any chance that you could take public transportation, so you could move around more?
posted bypinochiette at6:38 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]

If your car has a seat heater, turn that on to encourage blood flow to your back. Don’t wear anything that constricts your waist or ankles for blood flow. Drive without shoes. Do side leg lifts to strengthen muscles. Tilt your seat forward to encourage blood flow. All of these things have made my sciatica GO AWAY, but I have to keep doing them or it rears its ugly head again. I hope some of these are helpful for you. Cheers.
posted byeffluvia at6:49 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]

What about a massage car seat pad? Most seem to have vibration in the bum with rotating units in the back section, along with heat.
posted bybonobothegreat at6:53 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]

Aylio or TravelMate cushion with a tailbone cutout. Gel-filled ones are really nice too. It has changed my life as a musician who drives a lot. I have a really bad lower back and that pillow, on drives over an hour, makes the difference between being f’ing immobilized the next day and being a little stiff but fully mobile. It’s not even close. I don’t *really* like using it, if I don’t “have to,” honestly, because I like sitting low and driving fast in my spry little Mazda, and this thing does give you a higher center of gravity in the seat and a little less of that strapped in feeling. So I’ll keep it on the back seat sometimes if I just have to drive an hour or it’s a fun road, and my wife will remind me of the price I will pay for that. Because she knows how much of a difference it makes. I can not recommend it enough. Also I can manage 9-10 hours of driving straight with it, without it 6 max and I’ll pay dearly for that.
posted byspitbull at7:27 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]

Honestly, pilates. You need to improve your core to be able to handle sitting for long periods. Everything else is a bandaid.
posted byJubey at1:08 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

Visit a physical therapist to get exercises you can do. Exercise and stretching are most likely to provide long-term help.
posted bytheora55 at8:25 AM on January 24

Car seat positioning matters. It took me ages of trial and error to figure mine out, but you might start from thissuper-detailed PDFto determine a starting position and then tweak from there.
posted byLyn Never at8:26 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

Jubey has it: “You need to improve your core“.
I found a series of exercises and tai chi three times a week was essential for me to handle my nearly-an-hour commute. Unless you strengthen your core, you’re screwed.
posted byanadem at8:39 PM on January 24

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