8 tips for driving ergonomically
These tips will help you drive comfortable and save your low back and neck!
Sitting at a desk all day long or working from home on your laptop can be hard on the postural muscles if you do not have everything set up exactly right. This can also pertain to driving since we sit in the same sitting position. Here are some tips to help make driving as painless on your body as possible.
1. Behind the wheel. Get in wrong and you could pull a muscle in your back with all the bending and twisting required. Keeping your spine neutral can be difficult especially if you have a low-slung car and you are relatively tall. After opening the door, sit down in the seat then put one leg in the car at a time. This makes the movement come from your hips instead of your spine. The opposite movements are performed while getting out of your car - put your feet on the ground before you stand up. Easy.
2. Once you are behind the wheel, make sure both hips have even pressure against the back of the seat. The right hip could be forward of the left as you stretch to reach the gas pedal. Twisted hips are not good for the spine especially when driving long distances or if repeated daily. Move the seat forward to fix this problem.
3. Try not to lean on the console as this will affect your back at the lumbar spine – tilted to the left – and the cervical spine – tilted to the right. It also puts pressure on the muscles of your right shoulder.
4. Make sure the knees are lower than the hips. When the knees are up it tends to round the lumbar spine taking the natural curve from it and causing issues in the long run. The spine likes its curves. This is easy to fix with newer cars by tilting the front of the seat down.
5. Keep the heel of the right foot on the ground when pressing on the gas. Keeping the heel off the floor uses the hip flexor muscles which are connected to the low back. Over time this will cause low back issues.
6. The elbows should fall straight down instead of held out to the side. When the elbows are down the shoulder and upper neck muscles do not have to work as hard.
7. Adjust the back of the seat so you are not rounding your shoulders when you are driving. This happens when you are reaching too far forward and will shorten the muscles in the chest area and lengthen and weaken the muscles across the back causing upper back and neck issues.
8. Adjust the lumbar support to help keep a curve in the low back. The spine likes curves as it helps to absorb shock. If you do not have lumbar support in your car, roll up 2 to 3 wash cloths and tape it with duct tape. Put this behind your low back.