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Proper Driver's Seat Position

Proper Drivers Seat Position

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Every summer we get patients coming in with problems with their lower backs after a long drive during the summer vacation.  

Driving can aggravate pain in your lower back or be acontributing cause of chronic back pain. Driving for extended periods of timecan put a lot of stress on the spine, as the normal lumbar curvature is easilydisturbed by the typical driving position. Add to that the bumping and jostlingfrom traveling over uneven road surfaces and speed bumps and youve got arecipe for back pain. Following are some tips to help you adjust your driversseat to the optimal placement for driving.

1. Position yourself properly in the seat To do this, ensure that you are sitting as far back in the seat as possible,so that your buttocks are almost wedged between the seat and the seat back.

2. Adjust the distance between the seat andsteering wheel Move the seat forward so you can fully depress both thebrake and clutch, while still keeping your knees slightly bent. Your leg shouldideally maintain an angle of approximately 120 degrees. If your leg is eitherstraight or at a 90-degree angle, your seat needs to be moved either closer orfurther back.

3. Adjust the tilt of the seat Tilt yourseat forwards or backwards until you feel that your leg from hip to knee isfully supported while having your foot on the gas pedal, without feeling thatthe seat is pressing uncomfortably into the back of the leg.

4. Adjust the back of the seat Yourseat should be at an angle that fully supports the length of your back. Itshould not be reclined too far, as this can cause you to have to bend your headand neck forward at an angle in order to see the road.

5. Move the steering wheel You shouldmove the steering wheel toward you until it is close enough for your hands toreach the 10 and 2 position, while keeping your arms slightly bent. Having ittoo close can be dangerous in an accident, but you also dont want it so faraway that you are straining to reach it. It should be tilted at an angle soyour hands are just a little lower than your shoulders.

6. Adjust the head restraint The bottomof the head restraint should be level with the base of your skull and should beabout an inch from your head while driving, in order to avoid whiplash in caseof an accident.

If your car has a lumbar support feature, adjust it so itsupports the lumbar area without pressing into your back. If you dont havethis feature, one or two rolled towels can be used to support the lumbar area.

Try to be sure your knee does not drop to the side while youdrive, as this can cause some aggravation to the nerves in the lower back,which can lead to pain in the hip, knee and foot. Pull the knee in to keep itin line with your body.

Many of these adjustments only need to be made once if youare the primary driver of the car. Your back and neck will thank you. Happydriving.