Driving Tips from the Chiropractor
Prolonged loads on your spine is bad for you. With the average Brit spending about 9-10 hours a week driving, it’s important that we drivers assess our driving ergonomics to avoid any unwanted back strains.
We also need to feel comfortable when operating a vehicle. Discomfort whilst driving is a known cause of distraction behind the wheel, risking not only our own safety, but that of our passengers and those around us.
- Slouched Positions. Not only aesthetically displeasing, slouching increases the risk of neck and back tension and pain. You should ensure your back rest is setup fairly straight, elbows slightly bents and your hands at “10 to 2” on the steering wheel. Shoulders should be relaxed and breathing not laboured.
- Lumbar Support for Spinal Suspension. The lumbar area is essentially your lower back region and it has a normal curve that goes inwards. The curve offers your spine a sort-of suspension system of its own, so anything you can do to help maintain that curve is very useful. If applicable to your car, use the lumbar support feature in the seat. To those who’s cars don’t offer this, simply use a cushion or a rolled-up towel and place this in the middle of your lower back, complementing the curve of your spine.
- Pedal to Seat Distance.Try not the create too wide a distance from the pedals. After applying pressure to the clutch, you should still have a slight bend in your leg.
Discomfort whilst driving is a known cause of distraction behind the wheel, risking not only our own safety, but that of our passengers and those around us.
- Head Rest: The top of the head rest should be above your ears. This is to prevent unnecessary injury to your neck, in the unlikely event of a bump or an accident. Adjust the height of your seatbelt, so it is not sitting on your neck. The belt should be worn as tight as possible, without any slack. Ensure the lap belt goes over the pelvic region, not the tummy.
- Wallets in Back Pockets.Ensure you don’t have anything in either back pocket when driving. It’s unbelievable how often a wallet-ectomy will cure recurring sciatica in drivers!
- Take Regular Breaks.We would suggest you offload your spine every 1-2 hours depending on the distance you’re covering. This improves circulation to your spinal muscles and discs and gives them a bit of break from your weight. That could just mean stopping off at a service station and walk for two- minutes. A simple but effective tool for back pain prevention. Embarrass your wife by doing some spinal lengthening stretches in the car park too.
- Mindful Exiting and Entering the Car. Anyone who’s had a low back episode will know that getting in and out of a car can be a nightmare, particularly if the car is of the sportier variety. When entering the car, have your back facing the car, go with your buttocks first and gently sit on the seat. Then, whilst carefully trying and keep your back and hips in line with one another, spin on the chair drawing your knees towards the front of the car. If necessary, use your arms to, heave yourself on the metal framework of the car to help you move around.
- Prepare Yourself Beforehand If you do have a long journey coming up and your back is hinting that something isn’t quite right, get it checked by the chiropractor. The long journey maybe the thing that takes it over the edge to a full-blown injury, potentially leaving you out of action for some time.
If you wish to see one of our chiropractors, you can either book directly online via our website or contact one of our friendly receptionists by telephone or email.