Dr. Matthew Gianforte
Pain Management Specialist Shawnee, KS
For most people, driving a car is part of everyday living. Whether it is commuting to work, going to the grocery store, or dropping your kids off at school, there is no doubt that the America we live in is largely car based. According to the American Time Survey, American drivers spend roughly 1.1 hours driving a day. This equates to just less than 300 hours driving per year. That is a lot of driving! Spending this amount of time behind the wheel can take a toll on your musculoskeletal conditions, specifically back and neck pain. While pain is annoying, it can also be distracting. Any type of distractions while driving is not safe, and can potentially be very dangerous.
For individuals who deal with existing back and neck pain, there are some things you can do to make driving a less painful process. For those who do not experience pain, the following are important tips to maintain back health and prevent musculoskeletal injuries.
How to Improve Your Posture While Driving
Maintain level hips
It may seem like an obvious one, however people often underestimate the influence that small changes can make. Remove wallets from your back pocket, and avoid sitting on things that can cause imbalances to your hips such as jackets. These small imbalances can shift the way your pelvic floor sits, disturbing your alignment, and potentially cause low back pain.
Adjust your seat
Set your spine up for success and take advantage of the seat adjustments your car is equipped with.
- Seat height- hips should be level with your knees and you should be able to see the road easily and comfortably.
- Seat distance- move your seat forward until all foot pedals can easily be pressed with your foot. Your back should comfortably remain in contact with the seat. If you need to bend forward to reach the pedals, you are too far.
- Recline- seat should be reclined to about 100°.
- Headrest- adjust the head rest until it is in contact with the middle of your head.
- Steering wheel- adjust the steering wheel down and towards you until the crease of your wrist lines up with the steering wheel.
- Adjust mirrors- once your seat is adjusted to the proper place; modify your mirrors for proper visibility.
While driving, keep your shoulders relaxed, and your back in a neutral position. Tense shoulders can cause unnecessary tension on your shoulders and neck. Avoid leaning forward and slouching, your back should be in a neutral position. During the winter, it is also important to remove heavy coats while driving. Heavy coats that have hoods can place excessive pressure on the back of your head and neck.
Safety is always the number one priority, put away your phone to avoid any distractions, and always be alert. This will help keep you and those around you safe. Don’t let driving be the cause of your pain! Create a pain free commute with these simple tips. If you continue to feel pain, a pain management specialist Shawnee, KS residents choose at LifeWorks Integrative Health can answer any of your questions about creating a pain free life.