Chronic pain has been associated with a seated posture, as people who sit for long periods throughout the day often report low-back pain. Apart from musculoskeletal issues, there is also a growing body of research that points to metabolic- and obesity-related health problems resulting from uninterrupted occupational sitting for hours at a time.
My first recommendation is to visit your healthcare provider for an evaluation of the cause and a treatment plan for your hip and back pain, especially if the pain has been occurring for two or more weeks. It could very well be linked to your job-related sitting, but it is best to rule out other more serious factors, such as severe a muscle imbalance, disease of the spine/hip, or neurological problem. Once you have been cleared by your physician for regular physical activity (including strengthening and stretching exercises), consider the following approach:
• As often as possible, stand up and walk around. Ideally, you would do this every 30 minutes, but since you’re in a vehicle, stop, get out and walk around as frequently as you can safely.
• Practice a back health routine once daily, if not twice a day. Try this exercise routine that can help you activate all of the muscles surrounding the spine so that they can play a more supportive role while you’re sitting in your vehicle.
• Stretch the muscles surrounding the hips several times a day (e.g., morning, noon, and night and/or each time you take a break from sitting). The following flexibility exercises can help alleviate chronic tension that might result from prolonged sitting:
Standing triangle straddle bends
Modified hurdler’s stretch
Seated butterfly stretch
• Adjust your seat or sit on top of a pillow so that your hips are higher than your knees. This will keep the hips in a more open position while you drive, rather than in a more flexed position. Also, place a small pillow or pad behind in between your lower back and the seat back for added lumbar support.