Research by the British Chiropractic Association indicates that more than 5.5 million car and van drivers could suffer from neck and back pain as a result of time spent behind the wheel.
Sitting in an uncomfortable position for prolonged periods of time can affect the body in a number of ways, such as causing tension within your muscles and in some cases restricting blood flow. Seat height is particularly important to make sure your body is well supported and comfortable.
To help prevent or alleviate any problems, the BCA has published a list of five essential tips.
1. Adjust the driver’s seat and mirrors before each journey. The back of the seat should be slightly reclined, so it feels natural to sit comfortably. The mirrors should also be set up so you can see all the way round the car without needing to move excessively. This will help to avoid neck strain from sudden and repeated head movements.
2. Sit comfortably. The benefits of a well-adjusted seat are outweighed if you don’t sit correctly. It is therefore important to sit back in the seat and up against the backrest, so your spine rests comfortably against the lumbar support and the seat back.
3. Adjust the steering wheel position. Once seated, your hands should rest naturally on the wheel with a slight bend in your arms.
4. Position the seat so you can operate the pedals correctly. The seat position should be set up so your feet rest naturally on the pedals. Wearing soft-soled shoes is recommended, as high heels or thick soles limit movement of the legs and feet. Not only can this cause tension in your legs, it is also unsafe if the driver needs to react quickly.
5. Take regular breaks. The human body isn’t designed to sit in one position for very long periods of time, so it is advisable to take regular breaks on longer drives.
“Many of my patients have complained of neck or back pain when driving, particularly on long journeys, so it’s important that people are aware of the best ways to protect their back while in their car,” BCA Chiropractor & Ergonomic Consultant Tim Button said.