Driving a car can be one of the most aggravating activities if you suffer from back pain. Even those without back pain often find their backs giving them problems when they drive. Furthermore, it’s not just on long drives that you’ll aggravate your back—pain usually kicks in within a few moments of getting behind the wheel. But you shouldn’t let back pain make driving such an unpleasant task. There’s no reason to dread driving to the grocery store because of the pain you’ll have to endure. To help make driving more comfortable, here are a few tips for handling back pain in your car:

Pay Attention to Your Posture

We tend to forget about good posture when in the car. It’s all too easy to slouch in the car, either with your butt in front of your back, or with your torso leaned too far forward. Both of these positions are very detrimental to your back, and will cause nearly instantaneous strain. Make sure that you are sitting upright when you’re in the car.

Move Your Seat Forward

Moving your seat forward can help your posture. The farther forward your seat, the more your body is naturally shifted into a position with good posture. Of course, don’t move your seat so far forward that it’s uncomfortable, just to the point where it encourages you to sit up straight.

Be Careful Getting In and Out of Your Car

Cars are awkward to enter and exit. Because of the pedals and steering wheel, the body has to contort slightly to fit into a car. Most people tend to just throw themselves into or out of the car, twisting and stretching their body as they go. But if you have back pain, you should avoid this, as it’s a good way to tweak your back or put unnecessary stress on it. Instead, do this: to sit down, first stand with your back to your car. Then lower yourself onto the seat and rotate your legs into the vehicle. When you exit, do the same in reverse: rather than springing out diagonally, rotate your legs out, then slowly stand up.

Use a Pillow

When you’re driving, place a small pillow (or a rolled up t-shirt, blanket, etc.) in between the seat and your back. Make sure it is located at your lower back; your body will tell you where it is comfortable.

Take Breaks to Stretch

This is extremely important if you are driving long distances. If you’re driving for more than an hour, make sure to stop at least every 45 minutes to an hour to stretch your legs. This will get your circulation flowing again, which helps blood flow to your back. Even if you’re not going on a long drive, make sure that you’ve been walking before you get in the car. If you go straight from the couch to the car, you’ll likely experience immediate back pain. With these five tips, you should be able to cut down on the amount of back pain you experience as a driver (or passenger). Apply these useful tips, and you’ll find yourself enjoying car rides again, rather than dreading them.