3 Ways to save your neck and back driving to work!

Is your drive to work giving you a pain in the neck? Maybe a stiff back?

If you were in a car accident, would your headrest save your neck or break it? Here are the top 3 things you must do the next time you drive:

Yes, posture is everything

1. Position the seat’s headrest so that it is directly behind the center of your head. If the headrest is too low, you’re destined for a nasty whiplash injury if you are ever in an MVA.   Simply slide it up or down to the right height, and make this a habit even if you are the passenger as well. Most passengers just get in a vehicle without giving it a second thought. That headrest will greatly lessen any whiplash, and minimize any hyperextension during an MVA.

2. Sit up tall! Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to slouch? The posture of driving, along with most vehicle seats wants to push your back into a “C” slouched shape. This is especially true for cars, where your legs are forward and not much lower than your hips. The key here is often a lumbar support pillow. This pillow will reinforce and support your lumbar curve, and it will encourage a taller posture in a neutral spine. Newer vehicles usually have improved lumbar support. The best vehicles seem usually to be mini-vans, where the driver sits quite high. A neutral spine posture means much less compression and strain on your back.

Typical head-forward driving posture to avoid.

3. Stop slouching! …To the side that is. Try not to lean off to the side, such as supporting yourself on an elbow on the door or maybe the center console. A lateral shift in your spine creates asymmetry, and that leads to spinal compression and muscular strain. If you were ever in an MVA in this posture, your rehab becomes more complex and you will generally be looking at a longer recovery.

The following are the Most Common Poor Driving Postures that was recently published by TopSpeed Magazine:

The rollercoaster

The Rollercoaster

How to spot: Driver is leaned forward and sat upright, seat forward, bent legs, bent arms.

Symptoms: Shoulder pain, neck strain, leg cramp and side ache.

Solutions: Relax! Tense, nervous drivers are more likely to adopt this position. When buying a car, go for one with fully adjustable seats. Ensure the height of the backrest reaches the shoulders and try to sit back into the seat more to get better back support. Take regular breaks where you can get out of the car to stretch your legs.

The multi-tasker

The Multi-tasker

How to spot: Driver has straight back, arms bent, one hand on gear stick. 45% of mobile office workers are Multi-Taskers.

Symptoms: Headaches and eyestrain, feet cramp, pain in coccyx.

Solutions: 45% of Multi-Taskers drive for work but they should try not to use the car as an office – twisting to access paperwork and the laptop can be more damaging to your back and neck than driving. Regularly adjust your seat on long journeys to help your coccyx. Consider changing to an automatic car to avoid constant gear changes and keep two hands on the wheel.

The racer

The Racer

How to spot: Straight arms, seat reclined, straight legs, low driving position.

Most common symptoms: Side aches and lumbar pain.

Solution: Be aware low seat positions (and bucket seats) provide limited support for the lower back and sides. To counteract assume an upright position. Knees should not be higher than your hips – it reminds you to sit up!

The pimp

The “Pimp”

How to spot: Seat inclined, arm on window ledge/outside window, one hand on wheel. Drivers aged 25-35-year-old men are most likely to be ’Pimps’ behind the wheel.

Symptoms: Arm and shoulder ache.

Solution: Sit in an upright position, with knees lower than hips. You should be able to reach the accelerator and brake without stretching your legs. Roll up the window and keep both arms on the steering wheel.

References and Acknowledgements:

  • Top Speed Inc.  for their 4 “Most Common Poor Driving Postures”
  • Images:  Swisher Pens Inc

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