MANY of us spend large amounts of time in our cars, and any posture, even good posture can lead to discomfort or pain if held too long. It’s vital to adopt a good posture and schedule frequent rest breaks to prevent discomfort and back pain while driving. Common problems are caused by not adjusting your seat correctly, pushing your head forward, and stretching too far.
1. Seating, raise the seat if able to offer the best view of the road. If you cannot raise the seat, raise yourself in the seat by using a cushion or special seating device that raises you a bit higher.
2. Move the seat forwards until you can easily depress the clutch and accelerator fully.
3. Can you adjust the angle of the seat so that you thighs are fully supported along their whole length? Sitting with your knees higher than your hips may flatten the spine out and rotate the pelvis, causing a poor postural position. If this is the case, you can try a seat wedge to prevent the pelvis from rotating.
4. Adjust the back of the seat, so that it provides support along the whole length of your spine up to your shoulder level. Do not recline the seat too much as this will have an adverse effect on your neck, causing it to bend forward excessively.
5. Adjust the lumbar support of the back rest so that it is in the small of your back and that it fits correctly, i.e. not over arching your back or leaving any gaps.
6. Adjust the steering wheel height so that there is enough clearing above your thighs and that you can comfortable see the display panel in front of you.
7. Check to see that you are not too far or too close to the wheel. A rough guide is to be able to rest your wrists on top of the steering wheel without stretching.
8. Adjust your mirrors to suit you, rather than twisting and turning your back or neck.
9. Try to drive with both hands on the wheel, not only is this safer but it will minimize the likelihood that your spine will be rotated.
Some general pointers to help minimize tension and pain —
Take frequent breaks as this will prevent bad posture from becoming painful. It’s highly recommended that a 15 minute break be taken for every 2 hours of driving. This is the maximum time you are recommended to drive without a break and at each break you should get out of your car and walk about (i.e. change of posture).
Do regular neck exercises like trying to lengthen you spine, for example, imagine a piece of string coming out of the top of you head, and someone pulling it upwards. Also you can do some chin tucks, gently pulling you chin inwards (like giving yourself a double chin), and shoulder rolls, forwards and backwards. Please note these should be only done at an appropriate and safe time.
You can check your posture whilst driving by being aware of you vision and mirrors. When you first get in your car ensure you are upright with a good posture, fully adjust the car as described.
During your journey if you begin to slouch in your seat your vision of the road/mirrors will not as be clear, use this as a reminder to re-correct your posture.
Source: www.express.co.uk; Emily Fox; October 13, 2011.