By chiropractor Tom Greenway
Driving can be stressful! But in particular when enduring a long journey, there is nothing worse than when you start to feel uncomfortable and have a stiff aching back after driving.
Many back problems are caused or aggravated through poor driving posture. And these could easily be prevented. It is what you do WHILST you are driving as opposed to afterwards, that is most important.
So a few helpful hints and tips to help you on your way:
- Your seat position should be slightly backwards so that it feels natural and that your elbows are at a comfortable and relaxed angle.
- Your seat height should be at a level which allows you to easily see over the steering wheel. Check that with your arms extended, your wrists can rest comfortably on the top of the wheel without overstretching.
- Your headrest – the top middle part of the headrest should be level with the height of your eyes. This allows for maximum safety should you have an accident.
- Bucket car seats! Whilst they can look good, this seat design can often be very unsupportive for your low back. A good idea is to sit on a thin square pillow which will fill the seat/s rounded shape somewhat and support your hips and back better.
- Relax at the wheel. This reduces stress on the spine and allows your seat to take your weight.
- Take regular breaks. Stop and stretch your legs (and arms!) at least every two hours if on a long journey.
- Clench your cheeks! If you are stuck in traffic, exercise in your seat. Try buttock clenches, side bends and shoulder shrugs and circles. They work!
- Leave the tight clothes at home. They will restrict your movement.
Getting out of the car, try to avoid twisting at the waist and bending to get out of the car by lifting one leg out at a time. Instead turn in your seat so that both your legs come out of the door firstly and then stand up from this neutral spine position – thus avoiding twisting.
If you are on a long journey, after the drive, stretch your legs! Walk around a bit and think twice about sitting down again immediately for a long period of time.
If you regularly drive long distances, it really is worth having a posture assessment at the clinic to help avoid any longer term problems.
We hope these few pointers have helped you – happy driving!