Here’s an interesting pair of statistics. More than 80 percent of American adults will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. And 86 percent of American adults have a driver’s license. Now, we’re not saying that one is directly connected with the other, but there’s no doubt that poor driving posture can cause back pain. A recent study found that roughly one third of drivers are sitting incorrectly while behind the wheel, and over half were unaware of what the best position would be to prevent spine injury. In most cases, those who adopted poor posture either leaned too far forward over the steering wheel or reclined too far back, while other poor practices include driving while resting on the armrest, driving with an arm hanging out the window, or sitting on an uneven pillow. Any of these positions or bad habits can lead to joint pain, muscle aches and spasm, and even a permanent change to overall posture that leads to needing treatment from a lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey.
The problem of poor posture while driving is a particular concern for those who are driving older model vehicles that do not have the benefit of the lumbar support features that newer models have built in. These features can provide invaluable support for the spine, but many drivers do not take advantage of their capabilities. They leave their vehicles in the original factory settings, or may adjust their seat height or forward/backward position in a way that leaves legs bent awkwardly and a need to hold the head in an uncomfortable position of either looking up or down rather than straight ahead.
There are several things that you can do to make sure that you are seated properly while behind the wheel. These include:
• Adjusting the driver’s seat so that you are sitting as close to the wheel as is comfortable. You should be able to reach the wheel while maintaining your elbows in a comfortable position.
• The correct angle for your car seat’s back is leaning back approximately 10 degrees. It should support your spine without leaning too far back.
• Check the position of your side view and rear view mirrors before starting your vehicle. Doing this assures that you do not have to unnecessarily twist your neck in order to have full visibility.
• If you are taking a long trip, make sure to build in rest stops so that you can stretch your back and your legs.
• Empty your back pockets before sitting in your car or anywhere else, as these objects can force you to sit in an unbalanced way.
• Exercises that strengthen your core are a good addition to your daily regimen, whether you are driving or not.
If you find that while driving or after getting out of your vehicle you’re experiencing back or neck pain, you need to be seen and to have the situation medically assessed. Contact our lumbar spine specialist practice today to set up a convenient appointment.