5 Tips to Improve Posture and Ergonomics While Driving

Driving with back pain

Good posture is important while driving—you need to keep your spine in proper position to avoid neck, back and hip problems. Considering that you can easily find yourself sitting for hours in Metro Manila’s godawful traffic, it’s always a good idea to pay attention to how you can straighten your back and ensure that your spine is ergonomically safe while you’re behind the wheel.

Driving with back pain ©spineuniverse.com

Before we get to good posture though, it’s important to identify what constitutes the bad. While driving, take a moment to make a mental note of your current posture and back support. Below are examples of bad posture and ergonomic behavior that’s going to need correction.

  • Forward-extended neck
  • Slouching with the shoulders hunched forward
  • Rounded lower back
  • Slouched pelvis

Most people take all four of these bad posture positions simultaneously. Doing so can lead to issues much worse than back pain, such as sciatica, headaches, and others.

Now that you know what to avoid, the following five tips will help you improve your posture so you can prevent back aches and other related problems while on the road.

Adjust your seat high

A high seat puts your pelvis in the correct neutral position. Keep the height of your seat as high as it can possibly go, keeping in mind that your head should not hit the roof of the car and your feet should reach the pedals with ease. Also make sure that you have a clear view of the road.  If the seat is to low, you’ll end up with a slouched pelvis and rounded lower back, which magnifies the hunched posture you should be avoiding.

Keep elbows close to the body

Don’t flare out your elbows because this causes your shoulders to hunch. Instead, keep them close to your body. This puts your shoulders in a neutral position that places less stress on your arms. If you’re tempted to rest your elbows on the side of the window, don’t. Doing so causes your elbows to flare out, which is basically what you want to avoid.

Use a lumbar support

Many modern cars come equipped with lumbar support in the seat that can be adjusted to contour the shape of a person’s back. The main purpose of lumbar support is to maintain the natural arch of the lower pack as you drive and prevent the rounding of the back while driving. If your car isn’t fitted with lumbar support, consider using a rolled-up towel or pillow and placing it behind your lower back as you drive. It can also help if your car comes with other features that further improve posture.

Limber up

Every time you hit a red light, limber up. Shake and stretch your hand and arms. Massage your neck and legs. Adjust your sitting position. Do some chin tucks. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold the position for five to ten seconds. Make sure your car is in neutral when doing these to avoid mishaps.

When you reach your destination, stretch your body

stretch/yawn ©ontheyogamat.files.wordpress.com

Upon reaching your destination, get out of the car and stretch every limb.  Do something similar to the stretch/yawn action you do when you wake up. Focus on feeling the stretch at the front muscles of your body. These are usually the ones that experience much stress when you sit in the car for prolonged periods.

Practice these tips with regularity to ensure your back is protected and your body is prepared to handle lengthy bouts with heavy traffic.

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