If you using your car everyday, especially if you are regularly driving long distances, then how you are sitting in your car can have a big impact on neck and back pain. Especially if your car seat is not set up well.
By the time you have finished reading this blog you will know what it is to have a good car seat position, ways to avoid the traffic jams and a selection of stretches and exercises to help relieve joint and muscle pain from spending too long in your car.
What is a Good Driving Position?
The ideal car position should have your hands in easy reach of the steering wheel with a gentle bend in your arms.
Your hands should be positioned on the wheel in a 10 to 2 position.
Your seat should be positioned so that your feet can easily touch the pedals but you do not want to have your legs too straight or too bent . Ideally the top half of your legs should be supported by the base of the chair.
Often when I check the driving position of my patients we find that their seat back is leant back far to far.
In an ideal world your seat back should be between 90 and 100 degrees. The chair should support your lower back and upper back and the headrest should be positioned so that it would stop your neck rolling backwards if you were involved in an accident.
If you have a car seat that has an adjustable lumbar support then set it so that you can feel it gently touching your low back – this will help support your lumbar spine.
Why is my position when driving important?
If you are in your car for a very short amount of time, say less than 20 minutes, then you may be able to get away with a less than perfect driving position.
However, if you are regularly driving for more than 30 – 40 minutes then a bad driving position could start to cause you problems.
This is because when you are sitting in your car you do not have much opportunity to move around. So your muscles and joints tend to tighten up.
If you are sitting badly then your body is not supported by the car seat so your muscles will be working harder to hold you in position and will tighten more.
If this happens repeatedly over time then it could lead to upper and lower back pain and neck pain. To help prevent this you can improve your driving position as we have run through earlier in this blog.
You can also do some gentle movements whilst you are in the car such as gentle shoulder rolls, obviously if it is safe to do so.
Once you have finished driving then some simple stretches for your low back and neck can help relieve any tightness in your neck and low back.
How to Avoid the Traffic Jams
If you are travelling at busy times such as the morning or evening rush hour then it is worth seeing what happens if you leave 5 – 10 minutes earlier in the morning, or a bit later in the evening (if you can.)
I am often amazed at how much lighter the traffic is if I leave 10 minutes earlier and how much worse it is if I leave 10 minutes later than my normal time in the morning.
Checking the traffic for accidents or roadworks can also help avoid the jams. This can be particularly important if you are travelling around bank holiday or other busy times.
If you are travelling a long way to go on holiday or visit friends then plan to break the journey so that you have the chance to get up and move around.
A planned destination stop at a cafe or restaurant not far off your route can make the break in your journey more pleasant and the whole journey more enjoyable.
If you are having back and neck pain and think you may need to seek treatment for them then you can always book in for a Free Chiro Chat with me to see if I can help you.
I hope you have found this information helpful. If you would like further advice you are welcome to contact me through email on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on 01635 791 301.
If you have any questions or comments then do let me know, or alternatively post them in the comments below.