This month I’ll be discussing the perils of long distance driving and poor driving posture. With driving times increasing for the average user everybody should be aware of the risks.
Prolonged Sitting/ Poor Posture: after a long time behind the wheel you gradually begin to slump within your seat, which puts increased pressure on the discs in your spine and weakens the muscles. This makes you more prone to problems such as ‘slipped’ or prolapsed discs’.
Car ergonomics: the design and set-up of your car can also have an impact. Be aware of having your seat too low as more strain is put on your low back in this situation, the seat should also be the correct inclination and distance from the steering wheel and pedals.
Repeated Braking: frequent sharp braking and deceleration can cause repeated stress to the soft tissues of the neck and spine. Road vibration can shock the muscles and ligaments. These can give rise to headaches and shoulder pain.
Manual Handling: lifting heavy luggage in and out of cars in a forward leaning posture, or twisting the upper body to set the luggage down puts increase torsion on the back and can lead to muscle, joint and ligament strains. The back is most vulnerable when you first exit a seating position so be careful at this time.
So, what should you do?
o Don’t let your back become rounded. Wriggle back into the seat so your hips make firm contact with the seat back. If your chair has a lumbar support use it.
o Don’t poke your chin forward or hunch your shoulders.
o Make sure your seat is in a position where you can keep your knees and elbows slightly bent – being forced to stay straight is not a good idea!
o Take regular breaks if you know the journey will be a long one, go for a short walk and gradually stretch your back and limbs in all directions.
o If you have a niggle in your back when driving don’t ignore it, it’s unlikely to spontaneously resolve, especially if you drive regularly.
As with all medical conditions a correct diagnosis is of paramount importance for the appropriate treatment and management of the condition. For more information on the clinic, to discuss a particular case, or to book and appointment please call Tristan Hill on 01949 839 238