In today’s day and age we are busier than ever, and our primary mode of transportation for our busy lives is by car. Riding in a car can be enjoyable so we have provided you with a few tips to increase your comfort and function while driving.
In order to find the best position in a car seat you need to set it before driving. From a comfortable upright position, lift the seat up or down to provide appropriate vision of the road. Move the seat forward or back so your feet can easily reach and operate the pedals without stretching. If there is the ability to adjust the back support on the backrest, provide enough to give comfort and support to your low back.
In addition to the proper reach of feet to the pedals, you will need to have optimal distance of reach to the steering wheel. This can be done by pulling the steering wheel toward or away from you by using its adjustment mechanisms or by bringing the seat closer or away from you. The goals are to position it to decrease arm strain, not have it touching the thighs, and to allow for a good view of the road and dashboard functions.
The headrest should be located directly behind the head so that in the event of a rear end collision, it stops your head from going backward thus minimizing potential of high whiplash forces on the neck.
Once you are in a good position where your legs are comfortable and you can reach the pedals easily; you have good back support so you are not slouching; and your arms are relaxed when holding the steering wheel then you are almost done!
The last step is to adjust the mirrors to maximize view of the road and decrease blind spots. This mirror position will be your reminder if your body’s position is not optimal meaning that if you start slouching and get in a bad ergonomic position then your view of the road will change, provided the mirrors stay in the same original position.
These recommendations also apply to individuals who are riding in a car. The passenger and back seats may not have as many controls as the driver, but it is important to achieve the most optimal position for your health and safety.
If you happen to be driving long distances or are stuck in traffic for an extended period of time, it is recommended that you change your body position every once in awhile. Stop for breaks every couple of hours to move around and stretch your body, especially your legs and back. When multiple drivers are available, share the driving duties.
In a perfect world, every car would be perfect for every driver. In reality, that is not always the case! The more features that are adjustable in your vehicle will allow for more personalized fit and a more enjoyable ride. When you are trying out a car for the first time, it is important that the seat be long enough to support your upper legs (thighs), avoiding pressure behind your knees. Take into account your body structure, and have a car seat that is slightly wider than your hips and thighs for proper fit and comfort. The perfect steering wheel would be one that can move multiple directions, up and down, and telescope in and out. Neither the steering wheel nor pedals should be offset from center, as this could place excessive stress and strain on your back and spine.
Here’s to happy, healthy and safe driving from your orthopedic experts at ProEx!