SCENARIO: You’ve commuted to the mountains for a day on the slopes and now the cushy warmth of your car’s seats beckons to your buttocks.
SCENARIO: You’ve taken the long diving trek home for Christmas vacation and have enjoyed the luscious perk of warm leather seats for the whole 2 hour+ journey.
How could either scenario be anything but therapeutic goodness for the muscles or the senses? My friend, chronic pain lurks in them there seats!
Being on the slopes all day using your hip flexors to dodge ski bunnies and moguls alike is an awesome work out. Enjoying the crisp air and the fluffy snow is a great way to work up a sweat and use some muscles that may otherwise sit fairly stagnant over the winter. When it is time to stop for the day, icing those recently taxed muscles is the better way to prevent the tender stiffness of tomorrow, but that just somehow seems wrong to us mentally after spending a day in the snow. Creating a constant heat source adds to the recent inflammation in your hip flexors from the day’s activities and creates a hip flexor contracture. Inflammation is pressure and pressure is pain.
In the second scenario the damage is done without extensive exercise but the result is the same. Heating any body part excessively still creates congestion in the area. Congestion is where blood gets into the area but doesn’t easily get out, thus creating a reason for that onset of back stiffness after the long drive. This is made worse by the fact that you’re sitting still for extended periods of time (hours) which then does not allow for natural lengthening and shortening of these muscles.
There is no doubt that the season of cold weather brings in an onslaught of car seat heater “injuries”. I know — just like you, I too enjoy the perk in my leather seats, however I have seen the judgement error in having them in use for too long or too often which leads to an ugly end — chronic back pain from a hip flexor contracture, specifically the iliopsoas muscles.
A wiser use of this vehicular option would be to turn them on until they are warm (10 minutes or so) and then turn them off. This will take the chill off but not be long enough to create any damage. If you suffer from back pain regularly already, you might want to omit using them altogether.