I drive a Honda Prelude, should I get a better car to help my back? (one that doesn't sit as low?), If so, what cars are better? Also, I have a manual transmission, is an automatic better for the back? Or could the extra movement of shifting and clutching actually help exercise the lower back?
While were at it, do shoes with better arches help, my work shoes for the office don't seem to have great arches
I have made several adjustments since my surgery to help eleviate pressure to my back. One of the things I did was sell my sporty little Ford Contour and bought a mini-van. I now drive a Dodge Caravan. Although I drove my old car for awhile after surgery, I noticed that if I spent alot of time in my car, that I would sometimes get a flare-up of back pain. The van I drive has higher seats that allow for a more proper posture when driving for both my back and legs. Everyone is different in what is comfortable. I say that if you notice that when you are driving more that your pain/back issues are worsened, then it is time to look at another vehicle.
Look for something that allows you to have proper posture for your heighth and the more adjustable the seats are the better, especially the up & down adjustment for the seats. I remember that several people have posted in the past that they rented vehicles in order to find one that was right for them. Sometimes it is hard to tell unless you are able to drive it for a couple of days. I was lucky in the fact that we had bought an older Caravan for my step-daughter to drive and I tried it out for a month, so I knew it would definately help to drive a van.
I also test drove an Explorer, but wasn't happy with the seats. I did receive a brochure on a new vehicle that Ford is introducing for 2005 that is supposed to be easier for older people to get in and out of. I can't remember the name of the vehicle, but shouldn't be too hard to find it on their web-site. I figure if it is better for older people to get in and out of, it would be better for us backee's. The Buick Rendavu, (not spelled right), was my next choice for comfort and seemed to be a good fit. I just got a better deal on the van.
As far as standard versus stick, can't help you there. I don't drive stick shifts.
I don't have any suggestions as to the best car, however, there are a few things that come to mind that you might want to consider. I drive an accord coupe, which is almost as low as your prelude, but has a little smoother ride. It's not the best for my back, but I can't just go around switching cars.
Before you get rid of your car, you may want to try using some sort of lumbar support such as a cushion to help you out. I'm sure there are special cushions/seats that you can get. I'm just using a little cylindrical pillow that I got from one of my PT's. Other than that, cars that are very low are probably bad. Also, cars that are 'sporty' generally have stiffer suspension setups, and so they will be a little more jerky and harsh. The same is true of many SUV's, with regards to suspension. I would think a minivan would probably work well, if the seats are good, and then a regular sedan would probably be next on my list.
I would think that something with an automatic shift would be more better for your back. Excluding the pricier cares (cadillac, lexus, lincoln, etc., lol) I think the most comfortable ride I have had is in the Mercury Grand Marquis. We bought one and it is now 7 years old and I have NO desire to trade it in. A very smooth ride, easy handling, sits high enough that I don't have to struggle to get in or out. Friends have a Buick and it is quite comfortable also.
I drive a Jeep Liberty, and while it isn't the best ride in the world, it has one feature that put all cars to shame. I can step up into it, which is much easier then getting up out of a car. I can just step down.
For reasons I won't go into, I traded my Toyota Rav4 for it, and that Toyota was the best car/suv I ever owned in my life. Excellent room for entry and egress. Try one out. You'll see what I mean. And since they are built with a car chassis, and not a truck one like most SUVs, it rides like any well built car.