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“Avoid Back Pain When You Get In & Out of the Car"

As it happens often enough, especially during the acute stages of a bulging disc back injury, getting into and out of your car with back pain can prove quite difficult.  It would be great if we could avoid driving all together while suffering from back pain, but for a myriad of reasons one is practically forced into traveling by car during different stages of the recovery process.  And this can be often compounded if we happen to be the driver of the automobile.

In my clinic, patients with back pain and bulging discs often face the challenges of getting into and out of their respective vehicles.  These clients may be in an extreme amount of pain or discomfort and even this basic task can seem insurmountable.   It is something we have all done hundreds if not thousands of times and taken for granted whilst we enjoyed good health.

And while there is no one way to perform this activity completely pain free, it is feasible to give general instructions that will facilitate perhaps the safest way possible to transfer into a car and again safely out of it without causing the condition to get much worse.

Here are the "step by step" instructions for getting into a car with back pain (assuming you are the front passenger): 

  1. Open the passenger side door as wide as possible.
  2. Start by sliding or pushing your seat back as far as it will go.
  3. Facing away from your vehicle, position yourself with the back of your legs against the side of the car seat.
  4. Keeping your back straight (neutral spine), slowly lower yourself into the sitting position.
  5. Now turning your body as a whole (be careful not to twist your spine) lift your legs into the car.  Use handles and grab bars if they are available in the make and model of your vehicle.

Here are the "step by step" instructions for getting out of a car with back pain (assuming you are the front passenger):

  1. Open your car door as wide as it will go.
  2. Scoot your buttocks over in your seat towards the driver’s side or middle console.  This will create more room in your seat nearest to the passenger door.
  3. Turn your body as a whole (careful not to twist the spine) so that you facing out towards the car with your legs on the car seat.
  4. Push forward with your hands until you are positioned at the edge of the car seat.
  5. Slowly get to a standing position using the help of the car seat, dashboard, and/or grab bars if available.

In general you will want to perform all of these steps slowly and deliberately in order to avoid back pain.  You will also want to pay particular attention while turning your body so that your spine does not twist.  You can avoid potential back spasms by preventing this sort of “twisting” while getting in and out of your car.  So long as you are facing towards your knees at all times, you can be pretty confident that no twisting is occurring during the movements.

I sincerely hope you find these instructions to be useful and effective at avoiding back pain during movements both into and out of your car.  As you find this information to be of some benefit, please tell a friend.

Tommy Hoffman, P.T. By Tommy Hoffman, Licensed Physical Therapist


"Don't spend more time with back pain by not finding out the truth today!"


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