Our posture affects us in so many ways and as we perform so many activities. I recently read an article in Dynamic Chiropractic that discussed the important issue of driving posture that I want to share with you in this post.
Are you aware of your car-seat-posture? Most people are not and since we spend increasing amounts of time behind the wheel, taking a moment to really look at your driving posture could prevent a host of posture related health problems. In fact, if you take the time to look around the next time you are on the road, you may be surprised to notice how poor people’s postures are when they are driving. Seat position, hand position on the wheel and your general postural alignment before you get into the car will all play a significant role in your driving posture and in how that could lead to posture related pain or health problems.
Seat Position and Good Driving Posture Checklist:
- Sit up against the back of the seat with a tall spine.
- Adjust the seat-pan length so you can permit a fist to pass between the front of the seat and the back of the upper calf.
- Adjust the backrest up and down to your comfort level. It should be placed firmly against your back and may be tilted a bit backward for more comfort.
- Adjust your hips so they are level and square.
- Lightly draw your belly button in toward your spine.
- Lightly push the back of the head against the headrest while maintaining a level chin.
- Plant your left foot firmly on the floor and dead pedal.
- Lift your chest
- Hold the steering wheel at 3 and 9 o'clock or lower
It may be surprising, but in addition to seat position, your hand position when behind the wheel has a significant impact on your posture as well. For example, driving with the left hand on top of the steering wheel may make the left shoulder elevate. Holding this position for prolonged periods of time can cause tightening of the shoulder muscles, resulting in rounding of the shoulders and pain and tension in the neck and upper back. Pay attention to your hand position and stick with the 3 o’clock/9 o’clock position on the steering wheel.
To prevent stiffness and soreness behind the wheel, it is advisable to take “micro-breaks”. These are little stretches that you can be doing behind the wheel at a red light or even as you are driving to relieve the pressure from your neck, shoulders and back.
1. Squeeze the shoulder blades back and together for 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
2. Head turns/rolls – turn your head from side to side and hold for 2-3 seconds when you reach the end of your range of motion for each side.
3. Shoulder rolls- pull your shoulders up as high as they will go, hold for 2-3 seconds, pull them back and down and release. Repeat this several times.
4. Seat adjustment – every 30 minutes adjust your seat to a new position – raise it higher, lower, closer or further away from the wheel.