Staying safe while driving isn’t just about watching the road, it’s also about paying attention to your body. Below you’ll find some information and helpful tips to negate a variety of musculoskeletal problems as a result of sitting behind the wheel for long periods of time:
Adjust your position
Before you clip in the seat buckle and hit the gas, ensure you’re in a comfortable position that can be easily maintained for the length of your driving period in order to avoid gradual onset of muscle problems such as pain in your lower back.
To adjust your seat to the optimal position for comfort and safety, there are several procedures to keep in mind. First, adjust your seat and backrest so that you can comfortably access the pedals and view the road without restricting head or neck movements.
Adjust the seat cushion to support your thighs and ensure your backrest supports all the muscles from your lower back to your shoulders. Ensure you can easily reach the wheel, and place your hands at 10 and 2 o’clock while slightly flexing your elbows.
As well, your headrest should be level with your head – this will negate whiplash injury if an accident occurs. Lastly, adjust the mirrors so you can view them without straining any muscles.
Once you’ve achieved the perfect position, you should not feel any strain in your body. If you fear your body might slip from this position over a period of time, a cloth seat cover will do the trick.
Change it up
Even with perfect posture, remaining static for an extended period of time is a sure gateway to muscle discomfort or future injury. Over time, the blood supply to the muscles will reduce, causing you to become tired and have difficulty maintaining posture.
Small movements or shifts in your body weight regularly will maintain blood circulation. If you’re on a long drive, allot time for yourself to get out of the vehicle for a walk or stretch every two hours or so – a two-minute walk and light stretch will do the trick. If you have a history of musculoskeletal problems, this tip should not be avoided.
Your whole body might experience vibration if you’re driving over rough road or unpaved surfaces. Low vibrations don’t pose as much of a risk as the heavy vibrations experienced by larger vehicles.
Ensure your spine is in a “neutral” position. This way, you’ll be better able to better absorb the vibrations. Adjusting your speed, avoiding bumps in the road, maintaining your vehicle and ensuring you have the proper seat for your vehicle will also assist in minimizing the risks of vibration.
All of these tips will make sure you avoid muscle injury. However, speaking with a physiotherapist will provide further assistance such as helping you choose a seat cushion appropriate for your spine or providing you with a tailored stretching plan.