How to relieve upper back pain from taxi driving

Don’t let those long hours in the driving seat take a toll on your health. Here’s a quick guide to avoiding back pain as a taxi driver…


Anyone who’s been in the taxi profession for a few years will know the effects that sitting down all day can have on your health – and your back in particular. But there are things you can do to relieve the strain.


Your attention might be on your fleet, but the health of your business depends on your health as an individual first and foremost. That’s why we’ve rounded up some top tips to help.


And when it comes to protecting your livelihood, Taxi Insurer can help there, too. Talk to our friendly team about the right taxi insurance that will keep your business moving in troubled times.


How driving for a living can cause back pain


With back pain one of the most common medical conditions in the UK (alongside allergies, high blood pressure and depression) the chances are you’ll suffer from it at some point in your lifetime.


Indeed, professional drivers such as taxi and PHV owners have been shown to be at higher risk of such musculoskeletal conditions owing to a range of factors.


Prolonged sitting


Driving a taxi or PHV will inevitably involve sitting for long periods, and this can soon cause the muscles in the back to become tired and stiff. As you sit for longer, the spine is put under even more pressure, leading to pain and discomfort.


Awkward or poor posture


Unfortunately, many drivers adopt a poor posture while driving, which can lead to structural changes in your neck and back causing pain. Slouching or hunching over the steering wheel can lead to muscles becoming weak and deconditioned and the spine itself to become misaligned.


Repetitive movements


Driving involves a number of repetitive movements that you may do hundreds of times a day. For example, reaching for the pedals or turning the steering wheel, can all cause muscle strain, inflammation, and pain over the years.


Whole body vibration and impact


Bumps in the road and potholes are an occupational hazard  for taxi drivers in the UK, but they don’t just cause road accidents and potential damage to your car. The repeated jarring to the spine can lead to pain and discomfort.


On top of that, the low-frequency vibrations from the car itself can also contribute to back pain.




Road traffic accidents are an all-too-common hazard for taxi and PHV drivers. Collisions and other accidents can injure spinal discs, bones, ligaments, muscles, soft tissues and nerves – in some cases causing lifelong disability. Taxi insurance can play a vital role in protecting you from the financial fallout of an accident or injury, so make sure yours is up to date.


Improper lifting


As a taxi driver, it’s important to offer great customer service if you want repeat business from passengers. But if you use the incorrect technique when lifting heavy or awkward luggage then you’ll leave yourself vulnerable to back injury. 


Incorrect driving position


A recent survey of British drivers by Citroen and the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) found that 80% had some form and back pain and 13% believed that driving was the cause. A poor driving position can lead to restricted blood flow to some areas, causing muscle tension and pain.


Taxi Insurer’s 12 top tips for avoiding back pain


As you can see, there are many ways in which driving for a living can end up in back pain and discomfort. This can not only affect your quality of life but might even impact upon your earning potential, too.


If you’re prone to back pain when driving, don’t despair. There are plenty of simple steps you can take to avoid it and keep you in the driving seat for many years to come. Here’s Taxi Insurer’s 12 top tips to achieve pain-free driving:


  1. Always adjust your seat properly


As we’ve already learnt, having a properly adjusted car seat can have a significant impact on the health of your back. And whether you drive the same car day in and day out, or regularly switch between vehicles, you’ll need to take the time to get it right every time.


You’ll want to make sure the seat is positioned in a way that supports the natural curvature of your spine. This may involve adjustments to the following:


  • The height of your seat so your hips are level with your knees
  • How close you are to the steering wheel and pedals
  • The angle of the seat so the back is at a 100- to a 110-degree angle
  • The position of the headrest so it aligns with the centre of the back of your head


Some cars may also offer a lumbar feature in order to provide additional support to your back. For more help on finding the best driving position for you, read this informative guide from the motoring team at The Sunday Times.


  1. Check your posture


Maintaining good posture is crucial to avoiding back pain in any part of life, including driving. The British Chiropractic Association offers advice on this including, keeping your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and your feet flat on the floor.


While a relaxed driving position is important, be careful to avoid slouching or leaning forward when driving. As well as back pain, this could also make you more vulnerable to injury in a car accident.


  1. Set your mirrors


Before driving off, it’s also worth adjusting your mirrors so you can see all around the car without you having to strain. The more you can use your eyes rather than craning your head around as you drive, the better it’ll be for both your neck and your back.


  1. Change your steering wheel grip


The traditional steering wheel grip was the classic ‘ten to two’ position. However, driving experts are now suggesting that a ‘quarter to three’ position is better for safety in the event of an airbag deployment.


This position has the additional benefit of allowing you to rest your elbows on the vehicle’s armrests (if fitted) and take pressure off your back. Even small changes like this can have a big impact over time.


  1. Take regular breaks


As any professional driver knows, there are strict limits to the amount of time you can drive without taking a break. But as well as staying alert and on the right side of the law, it’s also important for your back health.


Be sure to take a break every 60 to 90 minutes. And rather than sitting in a café, have a walk around or do some simple stretches to loosen up the muscles in your back.


It’ll also leave you feeling less stressed and more relaxed. Just like finding the right taxi insurance at the right price, it’s a win-win.


  1. Use cruise control


person pressing cruise control button


If your taxi has the benefit of cruise control, then using it when safe to do so could be good for your back. The feature allows you to place both feet flat on the floor for short periods, distributing your weight more evenly and putting less pressure on your spine.


  1. Invest in a driving cushion


As we said previously, not all car seats provide enough support for drivers, so buying a driving cushion to improve your posture could really help. The right cushion can help to raise your hips and provide extra support to your lower back.


There are many different types of cushions available on the market, such as lumbar rolls or wedge cushions, so you can find one that suits your needs. We’ve found some well-rated options below.


  1. Use the heated seat option


Another vehicle feature worth trying if you have it is the heated seat option. This can help loosen muscles and relieve pain. A heat pack or a heated seat cover can do a similar job if your car doesn’t have this feature.


  1. Review how you get in and out of the car


Twisting to get into and out of your car can easily cause damage to your back. Instead, sit and swivel in and out of the chair. Attach a device such as a strap or handle to provide additional help.


  1. Exercise regularly when you’re not at work


Taking regular exercise when you’re not working will help to strengthen your back muscles and prevent back pain. Taking up a hobby like yoga or Pilates can improve your posture and flexibility, while strengthening the muscles that support your spine.


Incorporating simple in-car exercises like shoulder rolls or neck stretches into your daily driving routine can also help to relieve muscle tension. We’ve got some suggestions for the best in-car exercises for your taxi fleet drivers elsewhere on the blog.


The NHS advises that even if you already have back pain, staying active and trying to continue with your daily activities is important. Don’t stay in bed for long periods of time or the pain could get worse.


  1. Stay on top of vehicle maintenance


As you go about your daily driving business, all those potholes and speed bumps can cause a lot of stresses and strains on your body. Replacing shock absorbers when they’re worn and keeping an eye on tyre condition and pressures will help keep your vehicle – and your back – in tip-top shape.


Protecting your valuable vehicle with taxi insurance isn’t the only job you need to keep on top of!


  1. Is it time for a new car?


Has the time come to upgrade your fleet? As well as looking for the right taxi insurance, you’ll want to consider the following features in any new vehicle:


  • Power seating
  • Power steering
  • Cruise control
  • Comfort of seats and lumbar support
  • Ease of getting into and out of the vehicle for both passengers and driver
  • Large, well-positioned external mirrors
  • Radar detection sensors at the front, side and rear


Back pain when driving can be avoided by taking these simple steps to improve your posture and provide adequate support to your back. By following these tips, you can enjoy a comfortable and pain-free drive, wherever you go.


Should I see a doctor about back pain?


Ignoring back pain is never a good idea. Your doctor will be able to prescribe painkillers and medicines to relax the muscles in your back as well as other treatments such as group exercise sessions and physiotherapy.


The NHS advises patients to see a GP if the pain:


  • Doesn’t improve after a few weeks of home treatment
  • Is stopping you from doing your day-to-day activities
  • Is severe or getting worse over time
  • Is a struggle to cope with


Be warned, back pain can be a symptom of a more serious condition. So, read the NHS advice on back pain for more guidance on when to contact your GP in an emergency or to call 999.


4 of the best driving cushions


Providing back support with a custom-made cushion can help prevent back pain and completely transform your comfort whilst driving your taxi. Here are four of the best cushions to use when driving, as rated by driving experts:


  1. Lumbar support cushions


These cushions are designed to provide support to the lower back and help maintain the natural curve of the spine.


The FORTEM Lumbar Support Car Seat Cushion is recommended by the team of enthusiasts at Your Car.


  1. Wedge cushions


These cushions are designed to raise the hips slightly and provide additional support to the lower back. They can be particularly helpful if you have shorter legs or you’re finding that your car seat is too low for comfort.


The Everlasting Comfort Car Seat Cushion is a good option at a great price and is recommended by Auto Guide.


  1. Coccyx cushions


These cushions are designed to relieve pressure on the tailbone, which can be particularly helpful for people who experience pain or discomfort in this area. The Clever Yellow Car Seat Cushion features an ergonomic coccyx cut out.


  1. Seat cushions


These cushions are designed to improve the comfort of the car seat and provide additional support to the back and hips. They are typically made of foam or memory foam and come in a range of sizes.


The ComfiLife Gel Enhanced Seat Cushion is the Auto Guide editor’s pick.


When choosing a cushion, it's important to consider your specific needs and preferences. Look for a cushion that provides adequate support to your back, hips, and tailbone, and choose a size and shape that fits comfortably in your car seat. And choose one that’s durable and easy to clean.


Quick in-car exercise ideas for busy drivers


Searching for something to do on your lunch break? Incorporating some of these in-car exercises into your daily routine can help improve your circulation, reduce muscle tension, and boost your energy levels.


  • Neck rolls: To perform neck rolls, sit up straight and slowly roll your head to one side, hold for a few seconds, and then roll to the other side. Take deep breaths as you repeat this exercise.
  • Shoulder shrugs: Sit up straight and lift your shoulders up towards your ears, hold for a few seconds, and then relax. Repeat this exercise several times to release tension in your shoulders.
  • Leg raises: While seated in your car seat, lift one leg off the floor and hold for a few seconds before lowering it back down. Repeat this exercise with the other leg, alternating between legs for several repetitions.
  • Toe taps: Tap your toes on the floor repeatedly for several repetitions. This exercise helps improve blood flow to your lower legs and feet.
  • Abdominal crunches: Sit up straight and engage your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button towards your spine. Hold for a few seconds and relax.
  • Glute squeezes: Squeeze your glute muscles together for several seconds before releasing.
  • Chest stretches: Reach your hands behind your head and interlace your fingers. Gently pull your elbows back and hold for a few seconds before releasing. This exercise helps stretch the muscles in your chest and improve your posture.


It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise regime. But adding these simple in-car exercises into your day can work wonders when it comes to staying healthy and energised while on the road. Just like finding the right taxi insurance, it always pays to speak to a specialist first!


For some simple at-home back stretches to help prevent aches and pains, these NHS-approved videos from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy are worth exploring.


Nutrition tips to keep taxi drivers fighting fit


Taxi driving can be a rewarding career, but it can also be a challenging one. Long hours spent on the road can lead to poor eating habits and nutrition, which can negatively affect your health and wellbeing.


Follow these few simple tips and keep your body fuelled with the right nutrients to stay healthy and energised throughout your driving day.


Pack healthy snacks


It's easy to reach for fast food or sugary snacks when you're short on time, but these options can leave you feeling sluggish and unwell. Packing healthy snacks like fruit and nuts can help you resist the temptation and keep your energy levels topped up.


Plan your meals


Take some time at the beginning of each week to plan out your meals, and prepare healthy options like salads or sandwiches to take with you on the road.


Stay hydrated


Dehydration can lead to fatigue, headaches, and decreased concentration, all of which can be dangerous for taxi drivers. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, and avoid sugary or caffeinated drinks that can dehydrate you further.


Choose healthy fast-food options


Look for grilled or baked options on the menu instead of fried foods, and go for salads or vegetables instead of chips.


Don't skip meals


Skipping meals can lead to low blood sugar, which can cause fatigue and decreased concentration. Even if you're short on time, try to eat regular, small meals throughout the day to keep your energy levels up and avoid overeating later on.


With these simple nutrition tips, you can take care of yourself while on the job and enjoy a long and healthy career as a taxi driver. Take a read of our   for more ideas.


Keeping your business on track with taxi insurance


person pressing cruise control button


Your health and wellbeing comes first, always. But when it comes to protecting the health of your business, Taxi Insurer is here to help.


Our taxi insurance is trusted by drivers up and down the country and comes packed with benefits:


  • Cover for private and public hire taxis
  • 24-hour claims management service
  • Mirror NCB from other insurance policies


So when the time comes to renew your taxi insurance, come straight to the specialists.