In having discussions with the patients of our office, the majority are in agreement that we spend too much time in the car. Whether it is commuting to work, picking up the kids from school, or simply running errands, long hours in the car are a staple of the east bay community. According to statistics, 14 million people are affected by what is referred to as Repetitive Driving Injury (1). Research shows that three of the most common RDI’s are, low back pain, neck pain and headache.
Many of the symptoms seen with repetitive driving injuries can be avoided using proper driving ergonomics. When the car is tailored to your specific body type, it is much easier to avoid stress and repetitive injuries. Taking the pressure off of your neck, shoulders, lower back, and pelvis can make a significant impact on enabling your body to hold proper alignment. In addition, the better the driving ergonomics, the higher chance at avoiding significant injuries following an accident such as whiplash or other spinal injuries. The following instruction will help you find the perfect balance for your body in the car (2).
The best way to begin the seat setup is to slide it all the way back, lower the seat all the way to the ground, and recline in the back to about 50 degrees.
• Bring the seat height up until your knees are at the same level as your pelvis. This will take stress off of your low back and reduce the risk of low back pain.
• Next, set the seat distance. Scoot the seat up until you can fully depress both pedals without pulling your back away from the seat back.
• Adjust the seat back to a recline angle of 100-110 degrees. This slight reclining posture will reduce the stress placed on the lumbar spine.
• Lastly, adjust the head rest to sit comfortably in the middle of the head. This is very important for providing proper support to the neck, and reducing the repetitive tension which can cause headaches and neck pain. Improper stress can interfere with the alignment of the upper cervical region of the neck, which is the keystone for balance of the entire spinal column. Proper headrest placement can also give the head maximal support during a whiplash trauma.
Be sure to set your driving postures to these guidelines to help minimize additional stress on the spine. It is important to remember that these tips are most useful when the body is already in proper alignment, therefore causing the body to be balanced, pain free, and functional.
Authored by Dr. Daniel McClelland, DC
1.Moira. “Driving Induced Neck and Back Pain.” Balanced Body Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Aug. 2015.
2.”Driving Ergonomics.” Ergonomic Tips for Driving. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Aug. 2015.