“OW!!! My aching back!” A lot of us experience lower back pain while driving our cars. A number of researches have investigated the relationship between driving and Back Pain, which some interesting results. One finding is a comparison of drivers in the USA and in Sweden found that 50% of people questioned in both countries reported low back pain.
So what is the connection of driving and back pain?
So far, research has found three factors for low back pain whilst driving: vibration from the engine (something that you can not change), sitting position and the length of time that we drive.
Here are some ways to make your driving experience more comfortable.
Make sure that your bottom sits all the way in the back of the seat – where the base and the back of the seat meet. This will help to make you sit more upright and maintain the natural curvature of the spine, minimizing the stress on the spinal ligaments. If your seat has a lumbar roll built-in have this all the way out.
The Base length and Height of the Seat
The base of the seat should never touch the back of your knees and the front of the base should be slightly higher than the back, helping to provide more support and allowing you press the pedals without changing your spinal posture.
First relax back into your seat, place the seat at about a 10-15 degrees incline from the vertical position. If this feels unnatural to you then it probably means that the backrest is not upright enough for you. This can result into neck strain and / or coccyx (sitting bone) pain.
The position of your headrest will not only help to lower the injuries in an accident, but also to help to allow a better posture. The bony bit at the back of your head is a good guiding point, the headrest should be level with this. There should be about 1 inch between the back of your head and the headrest. This allows for the ligaments and the muscles of your neck to control the posture of your head better and giving better support in case of an accident.
Seat – Pedal distance
Make sure you have the distance between seat and the pedals so that when operating the pedals this does not cause you to over stretch your legs or twist your body in any way. Your legs should not be straight when pushing the throttle or clutch all the way down. Obviously your knees should not be bend to the point you cannot easily move from one pedal to another. It is normal to have your knees bent about 45 degrees.
The Arm position
Your arms should be as relaxed as possible, elbows bend around 20-30 degrees. If your steering wheel is adjustable have it in the mid to lower position, this will help to reduce the stress on your shoulders. Your hands should be positioned at ’10 past10′ and not as is suggested left hand at 9 o’clock and right hand at 3 o’clock.
We all have seen the “Rest Stop” signs along the roads…do it! Taking a break helps your back as well, so when you need to take a rest you can have a stretch at the same time to help your back.
As someone who experiences back pain from time to time, I know how much more it may be amplified while driving. The driving position isn’t always the best as it puts some irregular curves to your back and thus may require more lumbar support.
If you have any tips or hints for us at Freeman Grapevine on how to alleviate back pain while driving, let us know in the comments section below!