How to Avoid Tension from Driving

Car driving is an unusual activity as far as our bodies are concerned. The driver's position is not a natural one and the longer the drive, the more likely the body is tensing and causing pain. This article provides some ways to ease the tension and make the driving experience a little more pleasant.


  1. Image titled Avoid Tension from Driving Step 1
    Fix the back support. The driver's seat position causes your body to sit at a flexed angle that is not a usual posture stance. The sagging of your lower back into the car seat will inevitably cause pain from the lack of support, so it is important to remedy this. Add a small lumbar support cushion; your sore muscles won't have to do so much work to keep you in place.
  2. Image titled Avoid Tension from Driving Step 2
    Adjust the head rest for comfort. It is very important that your head rest is comfortable as this will help to minimize back pain.
  3. Image titled Avoid Tension from Driving Step 3
    Sit so that you don't have to tilt your head to see in the rear vision mirror. If you are constantly tilting, this will result in muscle and lower back tension.
  4. Image titled Avoid Tension from Driving Step 4
    Practice differential relaxation. There are parts of your body that have little choice but to keep working while driving. Differential relaxation places a focus on relaxing those muscles not being used while you are driving. For example, while your neck and shoulders don't actually do the driving, they often end up being a source of pain from driving in one position repeatedly. Try to remember to keep your neck, shoulders, non-working leg, etc. relaxed as the other muscles do the driving work. Pull your shoulders down, sit up straighter, stretch your neck or shrug when waiting at lights, etc.
  5. Image titled Avoid Tension from Driving Step 5
    Keep your eyes at the same level. As the day progresses, many people find themselves slumping through tiredness. Rather than stretching back to your proper posture, the temptation is to slouch and adjust the mirrors to suit the lower positioning of your eyes. Instead, aim to leave the mirrors alone and keep your eyes at the same level no matter the time of day. This will force you to maintain the straighter posture of first thing in the day.
  6. Image titled Avoid Tension from Driving Step 6
    Adjust the seating when visibility is poor. Rather than straining forward to see out of the window during rain, fog, snow, etc., it is far better to remain seated properly as usual and to simply move the seat forward a little to help you see better. If the visibility is so bad that you cannot see, take a break and rejoin the traffic when it improves.
  7. Image titled Avoid Tension from Driving Step 7
    Stay calm. Being frustrated, angry, or enraged by other drivers is not only a waste of time (because you can't control events beyond yourself in this situation), it is a surefire way to build up muscle tension and bring on aches and pains. Acknowledge that it is annoying but go with the flow; think about something else, like planning your weekend or thinking through an idea. Put on music, etc. See wikiHow's article on practicing zen driving for more ideas.
  8. Image titled Avoid Tension from Driving Step 8
    Keep the temperature even in the car. Tension can be brought on by being either too hot or too cold, as your muscles try to compensate for heat loss or gain. Also, being too hot or cold can impact your ability to concentrate, making you feel tense.


  • See a physiotherapist or similar health professional if driving results in aches and pains for you; they might be able to help you identify any unhelpful driving positioning that you might have adopted unwittingly.
  • On long drives, always make frequent stops. Your body needs a stretch even if your mind wants to overrule. You'll feel refreshed and better for the break. Even better, swap drivers and have a longer break as a passenger.


  • Don't slump over the wheel! It's a tool, not a prop!

Things You'll Need

Article Info

Categories: Defensive Driving Skills & Safety | Relaxation Techniques