In particular, lower back pain can be triggered from long drives. To help improve your driving posture, follow our guide to reduce aches and stiff muscles.
The headrest in your vehicle provides support for your head and neck. The headrest is designed to help prevent whiplash from rear and side collisions. A research study conducted by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) found that only 14 per cent of Canadian drivers have their headrests adjusted to a good position.
A good positon consists of the top of the headrest being at the top of your head or at the top of your ears. The back of your head should also be a comfortable five centimetres from the headrest. Next time you get into your vehicle, test the position of your headrest and see if it needs to be adjusted. Make sure your mirrors are in the proper position as well to avoid neck strain.
If you find you have lower back pain from driving, it could be from how you are sitting in the car. Ideally, the back of the seat should recline to approximately 100 to 110 degrees. This will put less pressure and strain on your back and help to avoid back injuries. Be sure your seat is at a comfortable level where you are able to see your overall surroundings and not be in a hunched position while doing so. Adjust the lumbar support if needed to fit the curve of your back. Look at your knees to see if they are somewhat lower than your hips and are slightly bent to limit any knee pain. Make sure there is a two finger wide gap between the back of your knees and the seat.
With multiple drivers using the same car, you may have to adjust the seat more often. Before your drive, make sure you are comfortable and safe in your seat. Adjusting your seat while driving can be a distraction. Keep a cushion in your car if you need it for extra support.
It’s important to make sure you are not too close or too far to the steering wheel when driving. Leave a small gap between the top of your thighs and the steering wheel. Also, make sure your chest is in front of the steering wheel rather than your face. This is to ensure if the airbag is set off it will not hit you directly in the face.
Remember, to have your hands at 9 and 3 o’clock positions on the steering wheel. This is also a safety measure to protect your hands if the airbag does deploy and gives you more control when steering.
Lastly, be sure to relax your body. Tense muscles can become more aggravated when sitting in an uncomfortable position for a long period of time. Loosen your hands and fingers if you find they are gripping the steering wheel too tightly. When you are stopped at a red light, you can stretch your arms over your head to relieve any muscle tension.
If needed, you can also take a break and pull over. This gives you a chance to stretch and collect yourself physically and mentally. By taking deep breaths and adjusting your position you can help limit stress and stiffness.