Many people commute to go to work. Whether commuters are in a car, or using a bus, train, or other public transportation, the long-term sitting can lead to health problems. Some of these include back pain, stress, increases in blood pressure, and more ergonomic issues. How one sits really matters and chiropractic care can be an important part of maintaining health while commuting.
When Sitting Isn’t Resting
Commuters can spend hours in a vehicle. Vibrations can wear down back cartilage. Long trips can leave a commuter feeling tight and in pain. Getting out of the car after sitting for elongated periods can be uncomfortable.1 According to Gallup (2007), workers spent an average of 46 minutes commuting to and from work (most between 30-60 minutes), and the vast majority drove themselves.2 Some urban areas have much longer commutes than average.
An ideal option for people who are employed outside of the home would be for them to move closer to work. This would enable the options of biking, walking, or running to work.3 Living closer to work (if possible), reduces pollution and emissions, and it saves gas money, parking and toll money, car insurance, and wear and tear on a vehicle. Exercise strengthens the body and improves the immune system. Chiropractic care can support people in their healthier commuting options. Telecommuting, or working from home, may also be a viable option for some employees. At the very least, people should park far away from the office in order to squeeze in some exercise before sitting again.4
Steps a Commuter Can Take
If living near the office isn’t an option, there are other steps commuters can take to improve their quality of travel. People who commute should have lumbar support in their seats. If the vehicle does not already have adequate lumbar support, one could purchase a pillow or use another object to create an artificial support. The lower back needs to be protected in order to reduce wear and tear on the spine. Sitting positions also need adjustment. Drivers should not slouch or lean too far back from the steering wheel. Everyone in a vehicle should sit with proper posture. Of course, regular chiropractic treatments can help people stay in a healthy alignment and minimize injuries and stress.5 Staying fit with proper diet and exercise, and staying relaxed, will help the body maintain strength during the stressors of commuting. It may sound like a small thing, but taking the wallet out of one’s back pocket makes a huge difference! Finally, if the seat is uncomfortable, adjusting it, rather than shifting the body, is a better step to take. These options can help prevent pain, but if discomfort happens, seeing a chiropractor sooner, rather than later, will cause less damage and will take less time for treatment.6
Learn more about chiropractic and ergonomics.