Osteopathy and your driving posture by Jonathan Hutson
Sitting is an inevitable part of modern life. We are now spending more time sitting than ever before, much of it while we are driving. Sitting exerts six times as much pressure on the lower back compared to lying down so the vibration of a moving vehicle only adds to what is already a taxing position for the body.
However comfortable your car, bus, van or lorry might seem it is very important to take regular breaks to allow your joints and muscles to move and improve circulation to allow tissues to repair.
If you drive high miles, have the comfort and adjustability of the driving position at the forefront of your mind and try to take this into account when buying a new vehicle.
Obviously trying to walk more, or take exercise a few times a week is good for you for lots of reasons, but if you do need to drive the here are some tips to keep your posture as healthy as possible:
1. Seat position - If your hips are lower than your knees then you could be prone to sciatica or groin strain because every time you depress the clutch, use the break or hold foot on accelerator, your thigh pivots on the front edge of the seat, putting pressure on the rotation of the pelvic bone.
The base of the seat should, as fully as possible, support the underneath of your thigh. Make sure that there is still a slight bend in the knee so as to absorb the continuous vibration from the road and lessen the impact from any accident. A straight leg might result in a more severe injury.
The seat upright It really helps to support the lumbar spine so make use of the support if your car has this adjustment otherwise a small cushion can do just as well. If you angle the upright back a bit, it places more of the weight of your upper body through the seat of the car rather than through your own low back if you sit too upright.
2. Steering wheel - Stretch out you arms and place your wrist on top of the wheel. Adjust your seat backwards or forwards to achieve this; this should result in a slight bend at the elbow when you then place your hands in the normal driving position.
3. Head restraint - This is designed as a restraint at times of an accident and NOT a rest for your head whilst driving. The top of the restraint should be level with the top of your head. If it is left too low, this can result in a far worse whiplash injury at times of an accident.
If you drive a lot or have suffered from a whiplash injury, you might well suffer from headaches, neck or shoulder aches, low back pain or sciatica; Osteopaths may be able to help with these symptoms and also give further advice on driving posture to prevent problems in the future.
To find out more about how Osteopathy could help, or to book an appointment with Jonathan, click here