Driving posture and ergonomics

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Good posture is the secret to preventing many pains, specifically back pain, neck pain, headaches and shoulder pain.

If you spend many hours in the car good driving posture will play a key role in the prevention of your back pain. However, bear in mind any posture, no matter how good it is, could ultimately lead to discomfort. Therefore, it is important to optimise your driving position and take frequent breaks to help delay the onset of discomfort.

The best posture is the next one – don’t forget to move it move it!

The greater the number of adjustable features within a car, the greater the likelihood of achieving a good and comfortable posture. Look for certain features in a car, for example:

SEATING

A comfortable and supportive seat with:

  • An independent height and tilt adjustment
  • Electronic adjustment controls. Ensure that all adjustment mechanisms are easy to use and positioned such that poor posture is not encouraged.
  • Ensure the seat material does not create discomfort and that all parts of the seat provide adequate support.

Seat Base:

  • Adequate leg length -ensure thighs are adequately supported and that the seat base is not too short or too long.
  • Adequate base width – ensure seat base is wider than hips and thighs
  • Adequate height adjustment of seat base.

All of these work together to ensure that:

  • Feet can operate pedals without stretching
  • All controls are easily reached
  • All display instruments can be seen
  • Good all round vision

Back Rest:

  • Back rest height – ensure height of back rest reaches the shoulders and does not obstruct ‘rearward vision’.
  • Back rest width – ensure wide enough to support shoulders.

Lumbar Support

  • The back rest should provide continuous, gentle support along the length of the back and an adjustable lumbar support may help to achieve this, but be careful -many do not offer full adjustment, resulting in pressure points or gaps.
  • An adjustable lumbar support with ideally up/down and in/out adjustment.
  • Always ensure the lumbar support ‘fits’ your shape and is comfortable.
  • If your seat lacks support, try using a lumbar roll.

Steering Wheel

  • An adjustable steering wheel (in/out, up/down and tilt).
  • Power steering.
  • Ensure steering wheel is centrally positioned and not ‘off-set’ to prevent rotation of the spine.
  • Ensure steering wheel does not obstruct the display panel.

Pedals & Gearbox

  • An automatic gearbox can be helpful.
  • Centrally positioned pedals that have adequate spacing and are not ‘off-set’ as they can create torsion on the spine.

Adopt a positive posture

Think about your posture as you drive –if you practise the tips below they will soon become a habit:

  • Keep your chin in.
  • Avoid gripping the wheel too tightly as this tenses your muscles and adds to stress.
  • Relax your shoulders.
  • Keep your head upright.

Assess your lifestyle

A pain free back is dependent on many factors including good posture and regular exercise. Exercises help keep muscles toned and joints mobile. It is important to maintain a basic level of fitness and move your body!

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