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In 2020, is was estimated that the average vehicle travelled 13,301km (approximately36.4km a day) in Australia. If one thing is for certain, it is that we spend a lot of our daily lives in our cars! As many people start returning to school, work and after-hour activities, we spend more time in our cars, travelling between commitments.
In today’s blog post, we look at how to have good posture while driving, as well as five tips to help improve your driving posture.
The word ‘posture’ refers to the way we hold our bodies while we are moving, sitting, standing or laying down. It is important to have good posture to avoid tightness and stiffness in our muscles and joints, to decrease the effects of wear and tear, and to prevent the onset of pain. When in a car, our bodies are seated for both short and longer periods of time. This begins to put pressure through our joints, however if we are unable to maintain the correct driving posture, even more stain and pressure occurs, resulting in stiffness, pain and other effects.
Poor posture, when seated in a car for any length of time as a driver or passenger can have short and long term effects on the body, including –
Below are our top five tips to help maintain the best driving posture and prevent muscle/joint stiffness:
It goes without saying, the position of your car seat can have a massive influence on your driving posture. When adjusting your seat, you want your eye level between 6-10cm above the steering wheel and the seat angled between 100 – 100 degrees to avoid driving posture pain. In addition to seat height, ensure the headrest height is raised and levelled between the top and bottom of your head to provide the head and neck with enough support
When sitting in your car seat, you should be resting your body against the seat to provide your muscles and joints with lots of support. Ensure you slide your tailbone to the back of the seat so that you are sitting in the seat’s crease as much as possible. Rest your head back up against the headrest in a chin tuck motion, or ‘triple chin’ position.
To prevent slumping forward and putting strain on your neck and lower back, it is a good habit to adjust the car mirrors before setting off on your trip. When adjusting your mirrors, you should be able to glance at all of them and see clearly without moving your body posture excessively. Ensure your side mirrors can see the traffic to the side of the car, the road lines and the side of your own car. A good guide is to adjust the side mirrors to see your back door’s handle and the horizon behind you. Adjust the rear-view mirror so you can see the entire car and horizon behind you.
To keep the shoulders relaxed, avoid keeping your arms above shoulder level when driving. Avoid holding the steering wheel at the top, instead hold it directly either side at an ‘8 – 4’ position, or closer to the bottom of the wheel. This will prevent tension and strain building through the shoulder and neck, encouraging a more natural, comfortable position for the wrists, elbows and shoulders.
It is important to remember to give your body a chance to relax, stretch and move when you can on car trips. When stopped at traffic lights, take this time to shake out your arms/hands and stretch the neck muscles. This small break will give the muscles a chance to move and relax from gripping the steering wheel and looking for traffic. When you are stopped at rest stops, or upon arrival at your destination, get out of the car, stretch and move your body with a short walk around to get movement in the joints and muscles.
These 5 tips are a great starting point to help improve your driving posture and relieve pressure on your body’s muscle and joints. If you are looking for more advice and tips, please seek out a health professional to help understand your posture and provide individualised advice.