Good Driving Posture for a Healthy Back
You understand the importance of ergonomics at your workstation, but have you considered the ergonomics of your driving position? The time you spend driving is time that can either be used to reduce the possibility of pain and discomfort, or to encourage back pain and neck pain.
Let’s Talk About Safety
Before we discuss changes you can make to your driving posture, let’s discuss driver safety. Safety is always the number one concern when you’re behind the wheel. Never make an adjustment that would make you less likely to see the road, your mirrors, or the instruments on your dashboard clearly. Please only make these adjustments while parked, not on the fly!
How to Get to Good Driving Posture
1. Start with a crummy driving position. Seat down, back, and completely reclined. Bring your seat height up until your hips are as high as your knees. This will allow you to comfortably see the road and instruments.
2. Scoot the seat forward so you can reach and completely depress all the foot levers without leaning forward from your seat. Your seat should be close enough to the steering wheel so that you are not leaning forward to avoid straining your head forward.
3. Bring the back of your seat forward until you are reclined at 100-110 degree angle at the hips. If you are driving around in a ‘low rider’ position with your seat back at more than 100 degrees, you are craning your neck forward, straining your eyes, and putting a lot of tension on your upper trapezius muscles that connect your head to your shoulders.
4. Bring the steering wheel down and toward you to minimize reach. The less your elbows reach forward and up, the less the strain on your neck and upper back.
5. Adjust your headrest so that it hits the middle of the back of your head.
6. Your arms should be relaxed, elbows bent at 90 degree angles and resting on your arm rest. Your hands on the steering wheel should be in the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock position.
7. Adjust the mirrors. Make sure you have a wide field of view so you don’t have to move your head or twist your body as much. If you start to slouch down or get into a poor posture position, the mirrors will feel as they need to be adjusted and cue you to sit back up.
Final Driving Posture Tips
Always remove your wallet from your back pocket before sitting. A wallet in the back pocket causes the pelvis to twist, stressing the back.
Don’t store frequently used items on the back seat or seat back pockets. Reaching for them will cause awkward twisting.
When getting into the car, sit first and then swing your legs into the car. To get out, slide the legs out first and then stand up to decrease low back strain.