Low Back Pain while Driving
You are not alone if driving, especially for long periods or through heavy traffic make your back, neck and shoulders stiff.
While these days car seats are more “adjustable friendly'' than before, often still they do not have enough lumbar support and the proper seat angles to take the pressure off your spine.
This then encourages poor low back posture, which in a cascade of events then stresses the mid back and neck at the same time.
If your work requires you to drive for long periods, then you are definitely more vulnerable to this problem.
How Do You Fight Against a Flawed Design?
The answer to this is WORK WITH WHAT WE CAN CONTROL.
STEP 1: START FROM SCRATCH
Push your seat as far back as possible. If the steering wheel is adjustable, bring it high and close to the driver.
Drop the seat height and cushion to their lowest and the seat's backrest reclined back to 30 degrees.
STEP 2: SEAT DISTANCE FROM PEDALS
Slowly move the seat forward one notch at a time until you find a comfortable position allowing your leg to have good control over the pedals (ideally the knees should not be over bent).
STEP 3: BACKREST AND CUSHION HEIGHT
Again, recline the backrest one notch at a time until your back feels supported. Make sure it is not excessively declined because this will interrupt the driver's field of vision.
As for the cushion height, the rule of thumb is “Knees LOWER or at the SAME height as your Hips”.
This can be a bit tricky because most cushions are in an inclined position making the knees sit higher than the hips (which is not what we want). Bring it up to the point where your knees are at the same height as your hips. Then, sit on a cushion or a rolled up towel to help lift the hips up higher than the knees relieving some of the pressure in the lower back.
STEP 4: STEERING WHEEL
Move the steering wheel to a distance where your wrist is comfortably resting on it at 10 and 3 o’clock position with a slightly bent elbow.
It should also be adjusted to a height where the controls are clearly viewed and not touching your legs while driving.
STEP 5: GET OUT OF THE CAR
This is probably the simplest thing anyone can do if the back is hurting when driving. Yes. Get out of the car and take a short 5-10 minute walk ideally at each hour of driving.
Studies have shown that the likelihood of a back hurting sitting in a car verse an office chair is a lot higher due to the vibration of the vehicle whilst driving as more strain is inflicted on the spine as a whole.
So, do your back a favour and get that car seat set up right!
Written By Iris Tan
B.App Sc (Chiropractic)