Bad Car Posture Driving You Crazy? 4 Tips To Cruise Comfortably
Whether you drive for your job, are busy shuttling kids around or just love a good old-fashioned road trip, one thing is sure: almost all of us spend a lot of time behind the wheel.
The average American adult spends about 300 hours a year driving, but for many that total is much higher. Your posture while driving can make the difference between arriving at your destination comfortably or being sore from the ravages of the road.
Here’s a few tips to make your travels a bit more comfortable.
1. Set your Forward/Backward Seat Position
You want to be close enough to push the pedals through their entire length of travel, but no closer. Sitting too close to the wheel can put your knees and ankles in awkward, unnatural positions which can lead to pain.
Sitting too close to the wheel can present a safety issue as well. Higher levels of injury to the chest, neck and head in rear end accidents may be caused by sitting too close to the wheel.
The backs of your knees should have at least an inch of space between them and your seat cushion. Having the backs of your knees touching the seat is bad for your joints and circulation.
2. Set Your Seat Height and Support
Make sure your seat is high enough that you can easily see over the steering wheel. AAA recommends your sight line should be at at least three inches above the top of the wheel. A quick way to measure this is to put your hand sideways on top of the wheel (the average palm size for an adult is almost exactly three inches). If you can see over your hand while sitting back in your seat, your seat height is sufficient.
3.Get your Lean and Lumbar Right
Despite the “sit up straight” cliche, a slight lean back can be beneficial while driving. A seat angle of 100-110 degrees (just slightly reclined from straight up) decreases pressure on your low back. Beware of leaning too far, however, as being overly-reclined can cause upper back, shoulder and neck issues from leaning forward and tilting your head down to reach the wheel.
If your car has lumbar support, take advantage of it! Putting it on its maximum setting isn’t always necessary, but look for pressure equivalent to gently pushing your hand into the small of your back.
A good lumbar support setting should let you get your hand behind the small of your back, but not your forearm. You’re trying to support the natural curve of your back, not make a camel flat!
4. Stretch, Adjust, Rest, Repeat
If your trip is long enough, even perfect driving posture won’t get you there without pain if you stay in same position the entire time.
Find a way to remind yourself to move and do some basic stretches (as safety permits) every 30 minutes or so. This may sync up to a radio program or podcast you’re listening to, a certain mile marker or just be a time set on your phone.
Every hour, make slight adjustments to your seat position, height, steering tilt and any other seating elements you can control. Be careful not to make large adjustments that could put you in an bad posture position, but small adjustments may give your body just enough variety to bear the extended sitting on longer trips.
Finally, try to get out of the car at least every two hours if at all possible. Car posture is all about trying to minimize the effects of a relatively unnatural position on your body, and nothing beats a short, brisk walk and a quick stretch before continuing your journey.
Just got back from a trip?
Come and see us from an adjustment and some therapy to help your body recover.
Also, ask about our “Strong Posture Program” which can be customized to your unique life situations.