Could your driving position be causing your pain?
With the number of hours we spend in our cars commuting to and from work or during our weekend errands it could be possible that your driving position is causing you pain.
Common pains experienced with driving are neck, shoulder, lower back and foot pain. If you do experience any of these what could you do about it?
- Before you get into the car ensure there isn’t anything on you that can alter your sitting posture. Empty pockets of pants and jackets removing wallets, phone and keys; as well as ensuring that clothing is not restrictive.
- Seat position:
- Adjust the seat so that you’re not having to reach too far forward on the steering wheel and you can visually see the road well. By moving the seat forward you should have a slight bend in your knee and be able to easily press the clutch or accelerator fully.
- You want to keep your spine upright by correcting the backrest position. Using pillows can be a great way of correcting your spine position or the height of your hip and knees. This should reduce the pressure on your spine.
- Steering wheel: the height is determined on how much clearance there is for your knees during sitting and where you can still see the display panel well. To determine the arm length you should be able to rest your wrist comfortably on the top of the wheel without reaching forward. Keep both hands on the wheel to stop any twisting or side bending in sitting.
- Mirrors: Adjust your mirrors last to prevent any twist of the spine, neck protraction or leaning forward with the body.
- Foot placement: common areas of pain can be your heel or the ball of the foot. If you rest your foot on the floor this could lead to heel pain. Ensure that your foot is straight and use shoes that have cushioning around the heel. If pain is persisting once you stop driving this could indicate there is another underlying issue that may need to be treated. Pain in the ball of your foot is generally due to the contact point of the pedal, and is can be influenced by shoe choice. Ensure to wear comfortable shoes or implement gel padding if necessary to the pressure through the foot.
Even once you have established a good sitting position it is important to ensure you take regular breaks. For long distance drives take a minimum of 10-15 min breaks every 2 hours. When you stop ensure to walk and perform stretches. When you return to driving, recheck and adjust your sitting posture to alleviate your current symptoms.
Whilst driving check your posture to ensure you don’t slouch.
If pain still persists with the above advise please seek treatment from your GP or physiotherapist.