Driving Posture Tips
We all know that being seated at a desk is one of the most troublesome activities for your posture, leading to neck, back, and shoulder pain… but what about our driving posture when we sit in the car? As a chiropractor, I commonly see clients who suffer from neck, back, and shoulder pain that is aggravated by driving and sitting in the car for hours. Whether it’s your 30-minute daily commute, or those long weekend road trips, here are some tips on how to adjust your car seat to limit neck, shoulder, and back pain.
Here are top tips on driving posture
Seat Tilt – First let’s clarify what seat tilt is. The seat tilt is the base of your car seat, not the back of the seat. This is where we create the angles and relationship between the low back, hips, and knees. Some people might also describe this as the “pitch” of your seat. The seat tilt is a common problem with many car seats. Not all cars allow you to adjust the seat tilt and since everyone is anatomically different it isn’t always a one size fits all scenario. The ideal position here is to ensure you always sit with your buttocks as far back in the seat as possible, every part of your back should be touching the back of the seat. Once you’re firmly as far back as possible we then want to make sure that your knees are NOT higher than your hips. If you’re struggling with this, make sure the back of your thighs are resting on the base of the seat by straightening your legs out in front of you. If you’re not lucky enough to have a car that adjusts the seat tilt, consider putting a thin towel under your buttocks to keep the hips higher than your knees.
Back Rest – This is the back of your seat. Most people assume that having good posture means you need to have the seat back as vertical as possible where we create a 90-degree angle, but this is not correct. Having your seat back in a straight vertical position can create more stress on your low back, especially those suffering from disc injuries. The ideal position for the back of your seat is one that allows a slight backward lean. This will open the hip joints to approximately a 110-degree angle. You also should always ensure that your back is touching every part of the seat, no gaps between the back of the seat and you!
Headrest – As a matter of safety we need to adjust how high our headrest is. Best rule of thumb here is that the top of your headrest should be 1cm above the top of your head, this is to limit the chances of severe whiplash injury if you were to be struck from behind by another vehicle, or even if you struck something head on. When’s the last time you felt the head rest with the back of your head? Forward head posture is the most common postural issue that I see as a chiropractor. If you are in the car your head should be no more than 2.5cm in front of your head rest.
Seat Location – How far away from the steering wheel should we sit? Make sure you can reach both the steering wheel and the foot pedals easily. Even with the brake pedal fully depressed you should still have a slight bend in your knees. Likewise, we should be able to grasp the steering wheel easily without having the arms fully straight. This will also ensure that you don’t have your shoulders rolled forward just to reach the wheel.
Try to follow these tips to limit all those aches and pains we get from traveling in a vehicle. You may not be able to achieve them all perfectly depending on the functionality and adjustment options of your car, but simply knowing how your body should be positioned will give you a higher awareness of your posture while driving.
If you’re feeling pain or discomfort, come in for a consultation and receive personalised advice and care for how to relieve your pain.
To book an appointment with Dr. Scott, call 3482 2637 or click here to book an appointment online.