Driving Posture and Positioning

Do you know how to maintain a healthy driving posture and reduce injury from an auto collision?  Proper posture and seat positioning when driving is important to prevent a variety of problems that can range from the neck to the feet.  Make seating adjustments in a safe location with your car parked and make sure you can safely drive with any adjustments made.  Not all cars may safely accommodate these tips for all drivers.

When adjusting your seat, make sure that your head is not too close to the ceiling.  It is important to have the headrest placed so that the center of the headrest is even with the middle of your head.  The middle of your head will be the bump farthest back on your head.  It is important not to have the headrest positioned low at the level of your neck, as this may increase severity of a whiplash during an auto crash.

Adjust your seat so you can sit up straight without slouching.  Your upper legs should be parallel to the ground.  Keep your knees below your hips.  The seat tilt should be positioned so you are not tilting your pelvis forward or backward.  This seat position helps to promote a good neutral pelvis position. 

The steering wheel should be positioned so you can have your elbows comfortably at your sides, with your hands gripping the wheel in the 9:00 and 3:00 positions.  Additionally, you should not have to lean forward to comfortably grip the steering wheel.  Keep your shoulders relaxed and avoid hiking them when holding the wheel.

Most new cars have the ability to adjust the lumbar support.  Adjust the lumbar support to maintain a back curve that curves in gently.  The lumbar support height should be adjusted so it is in the small of the low back, with the lowest edge of the lumbar support approximately at the top of the pelvis. 

It is important to avoid keeping your wallet or other items in your back pocket when sitting.  Keeping items in your back pocket may cause your pelvis to twist, leading to back pain.

When reaching for your seat belt, use your opposite arm to reach for the belt to place it in the buckle. For most cars in the U.S., this would be the driver’s right arm.  Using the same side arm places the arm into a position that is difficult for the shoulder and can lead to injury over time.  When positioning the lap belt, make sure it is over the bones of the pelvis, and not the abdomen.  During a high impact car crash, the belt may cut a person’s flesh into internal organs.  Make sure the upper strap on the belt passes over the clavicle (collarbone) and not over the shoulder or the neck.  Also make sure not to place the strap under your arm.  Proper posture and seat positioning can help prevent injury associated with driving and reduce severity of injury in an auto accident.  Contact a chiropractor if you have an auto injury, or have tightness or pain related to driving posture.  Be safe & live healthy!