Driving Posture – by Simon Case (Senior Physiotherapist and Commuter)
Driving Posture. For many people in the UAE the daily work commute can exceed 1 and sometimes 2 hours plus each way. If you start adding that up by the end of a month you may have spent somewhere between 40 and 80 hours in the car!!
Gulf News did the math see here
The National also did a piece on the health implications of commuting see here
I personally know only too well about the commute to Abu Dhabi from Dubai and back, which for me on average is about an hour each way. A lot of our patients complain about back pain when driving, or after the drive they find it increasingly difficult to get out of the car without the onset of pain.
However there are a few things you can do to make the commute a little more comfortable and reduce your exposure to prolonged poor driving posture and ultimately sustaining an injury whilst in the car.
Of paramount importance is the seat position. Whether you are in a sports car or an SUV, these seats are adjustable. From what I have observed a lot of people tend to have their seat too far back in the car which results in a very slumped posture. Having to stretch out to use the pedals is not desirable and results in people sliding further down the seat, causing the back go in to a horrible flexed position, rendering the back support obsolete.
Other drivers have the back support on their car too reclined, which means having to reach forwards to steer again rendering the back support useless. A study in 2018 by Nam et al, proposes a reclining angle of 29-31 degrees as optimum for preservation of lower back position. Everybody will be slightly different however, science is on to it.
So I have put together some top tips for staying comfortable in the car.
- Ensure you can operate the pedals without having to slide your bottom forwards in the seat.
- The back support of the chair should provide your back with support whilst being able to steer without you having to lean forwards or over reach with your arms.
- Lumbar support is a MUST for good driving posture. A lot of modern cars these days come with additional built in lumbar support, however this is not always adequate. As everyone is different and requires different degrees of lower back support. I use a lumbar cushion to assist with this as I personally require a little more support than the car offers.
- If you set your mirrors up the correct posture, this will act as a reminder to sit up and not slump during the ride. If you start not being able to see out the rear view properly you have probably started to slide.
- Any additional items like Sat Nav you use in the car should again be set up with you in the correct posture. Again if you start struggling to see your navigation you have probably started to slide.
Good posture whilst at work is becoming more prevalent and having been out to a few companies in the UAE, (providing employees with our free Corporate Wellness presentation) we can see that a lot of employers are taking employee wellbeing more and more seriously. Which is great!!
So next time you are in the car and you have prepped your playlist, or are getting back in to your audio book, just remember to have a little look at your driving posture. Believe me once you get it right and you are comfortable you will feel the benefits almost immediately!
Drive safe and comfortable!
Nam, Hyung Seoka., Han, Manyongd., Choi, Hyung Yund., Song, Kyumane., Kang, Seonggyuf., Ahn, Sung Minf., Lee, Shi-Ukb. 2018. Effect of reclining angle on lumbar lordosis at driving posture: A radiological evaluation [Online], 10(5), pp 923-930. Available from https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-back-and-musculoskeletal-rehabilitation/bmr170875 [Accessed 11th November 2019]