What Position Should I Drive In To Avoid Back Pain

Driving long distances can often throw up feelings of anxiety thinking about having to travel longer distances due to the nature and positioning of the spine. The driving position can cause pressure on the base of the lower back and also the hips causing tension, aches and recurrent back strains to flare up.

Different types of cars are designed for different bodies and the ergonomics are often not suited to back pain sufferers.

So is riding in style doing damage to your back long term or are the soccer moms having a giggle in their SUV’s? Who knows?

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So why is driving not good for our backs?

Well, very often the seats are not set at the right height in order to take stress off our lower backs. They tend to be too low. They can force the hips to drive into the base of the spine, causing the pelvis to rotate.

If there is any current disc pressure or inflammation, it’s going to be exacerbated if driving on long journeys for over 30 minutes let alone for 4 hours down to Cornwall for some summer sun.

Also if the chair is too far back, this can cause problems with the tilt of the lower spine and if the steering wheel is not in the right position, this can also cause issues at the upper part of the back of the neck.

Driving around towns and cities can be stop and start. So you have to be on the clutch or accelerator the whole time and also looking over your shoulder can cause torsion to the neck and the upper back.

So what is the best position for our spines to be in when driving?

  • Start with the seat height. The knees need to be lower than the hips. So the back is upright and you’ve got a good curve in the base of the spine to give springiness to the discs.
  • The steering wheel needs to be low. Not too low but not so high up on the dashboard that your arms are raised up or your shoulders are rotated a
  • The hand position. No driving instructor will thank me for this. But the 10 and 2 is what they teach you but really we should be down at 5 and 7. This allows the shoulder blades to drop and causes the retraction in the neck as well.
  • Headrest position needs to be high enough so that the head doesn’t hang over the back.
  • How upright should the seat be? Around 10 degrees but not any more. Otherwise it will cause torsion in the back.

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If you want more help with your driving position, then please send a photo from the right-hand side of you sitting in your car. You can plug this into a Posture Pro software and give you a readout of where you need to be and the alterations that you can make to make some suggestions.

Have a good weekend.

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