What are some tips for taking a road trip when you have sciatica?

My husband has sciatica after a back injury this winter. It's usually manageable, but it does become painful when he twists, sleeps wrong, or sits for too long. We have a road trip coming up and of course I don't want him to get injured! Our trip has 3 stops (2 days at each stop) and each one is 3 hours from the other. What can we do to make the trip comfortable? How many breaks should we take during each leg of the trip? We have a couple of months to get him prepared and buy any necessary braces, tools, or seat boosters. Thoughts? We're only in our mid-30s, so we're not ready to give up travelling forever!

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Sarah C

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  1. I was a road warrior for a few years, logged over 20,000 miles traveling all over the western states on my own. And yea, sitting for a long time can really aggravate sciatic pain. Those pillows with the cutout are great but there designed more for office or home chairs rather than car seats. You might want to consider getting a 1" piece of seat cushion foam from a fabric store, like Joann's, and use a scissor to cut out a hole in the foam, like the official seat chsions are done. You could easily cover the cushion with a pillowcase. That 1" depth shouldn't bee too problematic for a car seat. And it's easy enough to do without spending a lot on a seat you can't be sure would work. 

    As for what to do, limit driving to two-hour periods before stopping for gas and have a walk-around to stretch the body. I do that just by rule of thumb, I don't like to let me gas level get lower than that just for safety's sake, and it does provide a good time to break.

    There's a stretch that helps relieve stress on the lower back. Standing aside a table for support, or the car, and holding on with one hand, raise one leg to cross over the knee of the other leg, like a man is sitting crossing his leg over the other. If you need to pull the leg up manually, that's okay, but once you've crossed the leg over the knee, bend the knee slightly as you bend forward a bit, and it will stretch the back and upper leg. It could work sitting down too, if one leg is resting on the other knee, just leaning forward should give a good stretch.  If that seems too awkward, just a bendover with hands on knees and slightly bent will release some of the muscle stress. Picture it if you will, like the pose of tossing your cookies so to speak. It's just a bent over posture, with hands on knees. At night once you get to a place to rest, bending over in an L-shape over the bed for a few minutes will feel very relaxing. 

    There's also a stretch using a chair from the side, where you hold on to the upper part of the chair, put one foot on the seat with the other leg still on the ground. Holding on  just lean forrward and you're extending the lower torso and upper thigh. I like that one myself, it's actually relaxing, 

    Some of the sites that show exercises for sciatica seem a little too extreme for someone who had an injury, PT is always more than most people at first can accomplish. so you could look at them, but don't aim for the extreme, just aim for movement in that direction.  I suggested only stretches that can be done when you take a driving break, they're easy enough to do while you're filling the gas tank, stopping in a rest area, or stopping for a bite to eat. Everybody stretches a bit at the rest areas and truck stops, so it won't look strange. 

    Hope you have a good trip!

    Some sources to check out: 




    UTC 2021-05-03 10:18 PM 0 Comments

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