Tips for Proper Posture While Driving
Tips for Proper Posture While Driving
All drivers know that it’s important to keep their hands at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions on the wheel. But what many drivers may not know is how essential it is to sit in the proper position while driving a car. Driving can be a tense, unrelenting task. Worse, your ability to adjust or shift your posture while driving can be quite limited. Driving can place significant stress on your back and neck, leading to pain and potential injury in the event of a car accident. That’s why it’s important to adopt a healthy, alert sitting posture while driving.
Adjust your seat
When shopping for a car, look for a model that allows you to independently adjust the height and angle of the driver’s seat. As a test, recline the back of the driver’s seat to a 100-degree angle and check that your knees are even with or higher than your hips when seated. Making sure the seat isn’t too far inclined or reclined decreases the pressure on the discs in your lower back.
When driving, adjust the height and angle of the driver’s seat to fit your body comfortably behind the wheel while also providing you with an unobstructed view of the road, your mirrors and your instruments. The back of the seat should rise as high as your shoulder. However, the backs of your knees should not be touching the edge of the seat. Next, adjust your headrest so that it touches the middle of your head. If the seat doesn’t sufficiently cushion your lower back, add a lumbar cushion. If you don’t have a lumbar cushion, roll up a towel and place it behind your lower back. Finally, move the seat close enough to the steering wheel so that you don’t have to scoot to the front of the seat to reach any pedals with your foot.
Once your seat is properly aligned, focus on your posture. Fight the temptation to slump while driving. When you slump, you collapse your core, round your back and shoulders and lean your head forward. This driving posture causes the greatest amount of back and neck strain.
You can avoid slumping by keeping both hands on the steering wheel except when shifting gears. Periodically change your hand position to increase blood circulation and prevent fatigue. Regularly changing your hand position can also relieve tension on your spine via the rib cage.
Stabilize your core
You can stabilize your core while driving by actively engaging your lower abdominal muscles, your pelvic floor muscles, your diaphragm and your mid-back muscles. By keeping your core stabilized, you relieve stress to your back and neck. Less stress means less fatigue, which, in turn, allows you to react more quickly to potential road hazards.
Pay attention to your pelvis
Sit upright and keep your pelvis from sliding forward on the seat. Overextending your knee to reach a foot pedal (which also increases tension in your hamstring muscles) and moving your legs to brake or accelerate can cause your pelvis to slip. So too can vibrations produced by the movement of the car itself.
You can counteract these sources of back pain by moving your seat forward slightly, using the backrest of the car seat to support your pelvis, resting your left foot on a stationary object or placing a woven cover on the car seat’s upholstery to prevent your body from shifting too much while driving. Finally, empty your back pockets before you settle into the driver’s seat. Bulky wallets, mobile phones, etc. can all cause your pelvis to twist and place stress on your spine.
Enter and exit the car safely
When entering your vehicle, first seat yourself with your legs outside the cabin and then swing them inside. When exiting, swing your legs out first and then stand. These simple precautions will decrease the strain on your back.
You should also enter and exit your car regularly if you will be driving for an extended period of time. Take a break every two hours to stand up and stretch. This can prevent back pain and lower your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, especially in your wrists. While you’re driving, also remember to make safe, minor adjustments in your posture to prevent fatigue and balance the stressors on your body. Once you’ve reached your final destination, give your body a few minutes to adjust before you try lifting anything out of the trunk.
Get help from Onward Orthopedics
At Onward Orthopedics, we partner with the best orthopedic surgeons to treat back, shoulder and wrist conditions like arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and more. If you think you might qualify for treatment, request an appointment online or call us at 210.880.3823.