Driving Ergonomics

Driving Ergonomics

If driving a vehicle is a major activity in your life (ie. commuting, traveling, occupation), you have an increased risk of developing chronic spinal problems if you do not protect yourself.

Typical Problems from Frequent Driving

  • Neck, back, and shoulder pain
  • Cramps, pressure points, and poor circulation in the legs and buttocks
  • Immediately after driving, there is an increased chance of low back injury from lifting
  • Long-term potential for degeneration of spinal discs and disc herniation

Tips to prevent injury:

1)Leg Room: You should have adequate leg room.  Your legs should not be scrunched up, nor should you have to reach with them to use the pedals. Slide the seat so that you can operate the pedals with just your foot and your thigh is relaxed and supported. You should also be able to pick up your foot when operating the pedals without any discomfort.

  • Your knees should be slightly bent. Locking your knees can cause reduced circulation and may lead to you becoming woozy or even passing out.
  • Your legs and pelvis should have ample ability to move and shift position without detracting from your driving. This will relieve pressure points and keep blood circulating during long drives.

2) Tilt your seat: Tilt the seat so that it supports your bottom and your thighs evenly.  Make sure your thighs extend past the seat so that the back of your knees do not make contact if at all possible.

  • Recline the back between 100-110 degrees. This angle supports your upper body while maintaining and upright and attentive posture.

3) Lumbar Support: The lumbar support can be a saving grace during long drives, or if you already suffer from back pain.  Adjust the lumbar support so that the curve of your spine is evenly supported. Make sure not to overdo it. You don’t want you S-curve being pushed out.

4)Don’t sit on your wallet.

5)Adjust your steering wheel:  You want to set the wheel in a position so that it rotates with an up and down motion of your arms using the elbows and shoulders. If it is at too much of an angle to your body your arms will have to move forward as the rotate. That engages the chest muscles and causes a lot of torque on your otherwise stationary torso and that can cause fatigue and posture problems.

6. Take Breaks During Long Drives: Take a break at least every two hours. Stop the car and get out for a short stroll. This relaxes the muscles used while driving and gets the blood circulating again.

PLEASE NOTE: Safety is always the first concern. Never make an adjustment that would make you less likely to see the road, your mirrors, or the instruments easily.