Have you ever gotten out of the car after a long (or even short) drive and felt pain or stiffness in your lower back or neck?
If so, your posture and seat positioning in your car could be putting unnecessary stress on certain parts of your body. In this post, we will go through a few simple changes you can make to your car to make the trip more comfortable, with a focus on your lower back.
- Adjust the seat positioning
- Ideally, your seat should be set upright at an angle of 100-110°.
- You should slide the seat so you can comfortably reach the pedals with a slight bend in your knees. Your feet should be relaxed with your heels in contact with the floor.
- The seat tilt should be adjusted so your hips and knees are sitting at roughly similar heights. Having your knees set higher increases your hip angle and can put increased load on your lower back.
- Lower back support
- Some cars offer built in lower back support. These are designed to follow the curve of your lower back and provide support for this. If your car has this, the height and depth are often able to be adjusted to fill the curve of your back
- If your car does not have this, simple alternatives include using a rolled-up towel or pillow and placing behind your lower back for support.
- Car seat lumbar supports can also be purchased as a more permanent option.
- Adjust the headrest
- The headrest should be altered until it sits in the middle of your head. Some cars headrests can be adjusted forward and backwards. If your car does this, adjust so the headrest meets the back of your head when you are seated in your ideal driving position. If your headrest is set too far back, this can cause your neck to lean backwards into extension and put increased loads on muscles and joints.
- Adjust the mirror
- After setting up your seat, sit in an upright posture and adjust the mirror so you can see comfortably out the back from this position. This can be used as a cue when driving, as you will notice if you are starting to slouch.
- Steering wheel and arm position
- Adjust the height and depth of the steering wheel so you have a slight bend in your elbows when your hands are placed in driving position.
- Your shoulder blades and upper back should be able to remain in contact with the seat when driving.
- Exercises and stretches
- For long drives, try to pull over every hour to do some stretches and walking, even if only for 2-3 minutes. This can help maintain blood flow to muscles and reduce any stiffness you may feel.
- Stretches you can do include:
- Upper trapezius stretch (pull head gently to the side until you feel stretch at the top of the shoulder, 20 second hold, both sides)
- Mid back rotations (Seated, rotating as far as comfortable, 15 each direction)
We hope these tips help you! If you have any further questions, or need specific advice about your posture, give us a call, or book online with one of our Osteos or Remedial Massage Therapists.