Did you know that most drivers spend nearly 292 hours in the car per year? While that has changed a lot with remote work and quarantine, vaccine rollouts and a beautiful summer ahead means more Americans will be back in their cars and out on the open road.
With many of us having been shut-ins for so long, it’s probably a good time to refresh our memory about proper driving posture! Like any long-term sitting position, driving necessitates good posture to prevent soreness, stiffness, and long-term injuries. Here are some tips for proper posture when you get back on the road.
Many newer cars come with a variety of seat adjustments, including lumbar support. Your lumbar is the lower part of your back; its slightly arched shape means that it sometimes doesn’t rest directly on the seat. Many cheaper or older cars don’t have proper support for this area, and can cause some discomfort on longer trips. Consider getting a lumbar pillow if you plan on driving a lot.
You should also keep your seating position “high,” so that your legs sit at about a 120° angle, and so that your back is relatively straight. This keep your pelvis at a more natural angle, which reduces strain on your lower back. If you have a lower car and this simply isn’t an option, make sure to stretch on longer trips (stretching is a good idea anyway!)
Shoulders and Neck
You likely heard in driver’s ed that you should grip the steering wheel at the “10 and 2” position. Unfortunately, this position can sometimes cause your shoulders to slump forward. It’s better for your back to grip towards the middle or the bottom; obviously it’s fine to temporarily adjust this position for complex maneuvers.
You may also notice that you point your head forward when driving, especially during heavy traffic when you have to concentrate. This reinforces slouching and puts a surprising amount of strain on your shoulders and neck. Make sure you use that headrest! It’s more than just a comfy cushion: it’s a helpful guide on where to keep your head.
Do you have a sore neck, shoulders, or back? These are especially common in people with a long commute or who sit long hours in a chair each day. Physical therapy can help! Physical Therapy Partners’ skilled physical therapists can help you improve your posture and strengthen your muscles so that your commute is a pleasant one. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.