Many patients that come to the clinic with lower back or neck pain often report symptoms while driving. More often the position of their seat is at fault and some small adjustments can make a huge difference. When sitting in the car aim to align your spine in a position as close to neutral as possible. Your back should not slump into a flexed position and you head should be positioned above you neck and shoulders and not ‘stuck out’ in front of you! Here are a few tips to get your seat right.
1. Raise the seat base as high as you can (avoid obscuring your view though!) – Aim to have your thighs as close to horizontal as possible so that your hips are not too flexed.
2. Adjust your seat positioning so you are not stretching to reach the pedals while at the same time your knees and hips are not overly flexed. This will to some extent be determined by the length of your arms!
3. Adjust the angle of the seat back so that it is just off vertical – it should not be excessively reclined as this will lead to a forward posture.
4. Your head should lightly touch the head rest in this position. If your head is positioned away from the head rest because of an over reclined seat you are more likely to experience neck pain.
5. With your hands on the wheel your elbows should be flexed no more than 20-30 degrees.
6. Adjust the lumbar support to fill the small hollow in your lower back. Do not over adjust as this will push you in to too much extension. You are aiming for maintenance of a “neutral” position.
7. With your left hand resting on the gear stick your elbow should be slightly bent – do not stretch to reach the gear stick.