How to avoid back pain when driving a cab: Tips and techniques for taxi drivers in the UK

Driving a taxi cab can be very rewarding but talk to anyone in the industry and you’ll hear there are also many stresses and strains. Driving for long periods can lead to a risk of overwork, boredom and anxiety from dealing with complicated traffic conditions and tricky customers. In addition, taxi drivers can also be at increased risk of a number of health problems that can affect their working and personal lives.


One such health risk is back pain. With the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) reporting that such pain is the most common condition they encounter and the number one cause of disability globally, it’s clearly a concern for all.


Indeed, a recent study of taxi drivers in China found that 54% of drivers reported back pain. Longer daily driving duration, night shifts and increased working years were all factors that increased the risk of back problems.


Here at Taxi Insurer, we understand the stresses and strains put on a taxi driver’s health and business. We can alleviate some of that stress by helping you find the right taxi cover.


Plus we’ve gathered a few top tips for taking care of your back, too, so you can get on with the job at hand.


  1. Get your seat position just right


Making sure your seat is properly positioned for your body is vital when it comes to preventing back pain. After all just sitting in an uncomfortable chair for long periods will wreak havoc with your posture, and so will an improperly positioned driving seat.


We all come in different shapes and sizes and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. However, follow these simple steps to a more comfortable driving experience.


  • Sit as far back in the seat as you can with the backrest in contact with as much of your back as possible.
  • Look at your body position. Your legs and torso should create an angle between 100 and 110 degrees. Less will leave you hunched over while more could leave your back unsupported. Either can lead to strain on your neck and shoulder muscles as well as your back.
  • Adjust your seat so it supports the full length of your thighs. Keep your thighs parallel with the floor.
  • Slide the seat a comfortable distance from the pedals and steering wheel. You should be able to fully depress the pedals while maintaining a slight bend in your knee.
  • Ensure your head is aligned with the middle of the headrest. There should be a small gap between your head and the headrest.


A person sat in a car seat putting their seatbelt on

  1. Adjust your steering wheel and mirrors


Once you have your seat perfectly aligned then move on to the rest of the driver’s area.


First, adjust the steering wheel so your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Take care that the wheel is not so close to your chest that it interferes with the effective deployment of the airbag.


Next, sit up very slightly to adjust the rear-view and side mirrors, this will help stop you slouching when driving. Whenever you get in the car, check the position of your mirrors.


You should be able to use them without having to twist your body or neck excessively. This might not seem important at first but over several hours of driving every day you’ll soon notice a difference.


  1. Take regular breaks and stretch out


Your back loves to keep mobile so moving around every 20-30 minutes is a good target to have. If you sit for too long then a whole host of health problems can occur besides back and spine issues.


Provided it’s safe, simply stopping and performing some light stretches or shifting your weight around will help compensate.


In any event taking a break from driving, at least every two to three hours, is something you need to get into the habit of doing. Even a short walk will get your blood circulating to your lower back and boost your concentration when you get back behind the wheel.


  1. Don’t ignore vehicle maintenance


All the stopping, starting and jolting on the UK roads can create a lot of stresses on a driver’s body. Getting any suspension problems sorted and checking tyre pressures regularly will all help keep your vehicle and your back in tip-top condition. Protecting your vehicle with taxi insurance isn’t the only way to keep yourself on the road.


Someone checkin the tread depth of their tyre

  1. Commit to fitness


With 68% of British chiropractors believing exercise is the single most important element for maintaining good back health, keeping fit is an important weapon in the battle against back pain.


Indeed, the BCA has even created a programme of three-minute exercises, called Straighten Up UK, to help. These can be easily slotted into your daily driving schedule to help prevent back pain by promoting movement, balance, strength and flexibility in the spine.


Outside of working hours any regular exercise such as swimming, cycling or walking will benefit your core strength and allow you to keep driving free from back pain.


  1. Time for a change


If you begin to suffer from back pain then some of these top tips might help. If you’re driving long stretches on motorways or dual carriageways then you can cut down on pedal use and pressure on your back by using cruise control.


Heated seats can be used to soothe a painful back while a lumbar support can also do a lot to take the pressure off.


And finally, make sure your back pockets are kept empty. Over time even small items can lead to pressure points and problems with your back.


Protecting your business as well as your back


Taxi drivers can come under a lot of pressure at work and that’s why we’re always looking for ways to help. From third party, fire and theft cover, third party only cover or comprehensive cover, our taxi insurance comes in many different forms to suit you.


Your taxi insurance may also include no claims bonus protection and cover for different vehicles such as minibuses and MPVs. Every policy taken through Taxi Insurer benefits from a 24-hour claims management service.


Get a quick quote for taxi insurance today.


Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.


Frequently asked questions


How can I help my back while driving?


Make sure your seat is properly adjusted to provide maximum support for your lower back. Consider using a lumbar roll or cushion to maintain the natural curve of your spine. Additionally, taking regular breaks to stretch and walk around can help prevent stiffness and muscle fatigue. Practising good posture and avoiding slouching can go a long way in reducing strain on your back. Remember, taking care of your back is essential for maintaining your well-being as a taxi driver.


How to stop muscle spasms from driving?


It is important to address the root cause of the spasms. They can be triggered by dehydration, so make sure you're drinking enough water throughout the day. Stretching exercises before and after driving can also help to prevent muscle spasms. Additionally, ensuring proper posture and using ergonomic supports like lumbar cushions can alleviate strain on your muscles.


How can I help my knees while driving?


One simple solution is to make sure your seat is adjusted properly. Ensure that your knees are slightly bent and your feet comfortably reach the pedals without any strain. Another helpful tip is to take regular breaks and stretch your legs. This will help improve blood circulation and reduce any stiffness in your knees. Lastly, investing in a cushion or support for your lower back can also provide additional comfort and support for your knees while driving.


Why do my hips hurt when I sit and drive?


One possible explanation is that sitting for extended periods can cause your hip flexor muscles to become tight and shortened, leading to discomfort and pain. Additionally, the pressure exerted on your hips while sitting can also compress the nerves in the area, resulting in pain. It's important to take breaks and stretch your hips regularly when sitting for prolonged periods to alleviate any discomfort and prevent further issues.