Is how you sit is your car causing your neck and back pain?

Car ergonomics

Whether it is for work, carpool, running errands, or travelling, many of us spend hours in the car. Poor positioning in the car can attribute to neck and back pain. Here is how to sit properly in your car.

  1. Start with your seat in the wrong position:

Starting position

Starting position

-Put the steering wheel fully up and forward

-Seat height at its lowest

-Seat cushion tilted so that the front edge is at its lowest

-Lean the back rest back about 30 degrees

-Have all lumbar supports neutral

-Push seat back as far as it goes

2. Raise your seat up to get the best view of the road.

3. Scoot your seat forward so you have full pedal control

4. Adjust the cushion tilt angle so that your thighs are supported without pressure behind your knees.

5. Bring the back forward until you are reclined at a 100-110 degree angle. This decreases the pressure on the discs in your low back.

6. Adjust your headrest so it rests in the middle of your head.

7. Adjust the lumbar support so you have even back support. This should be supportive and comfortable. A lumbar cushion can be added if your car lacks sufficient lumbar support.

8. Adjust the seat belt to fit you instead of adjusting the seat to accommodate the seat belt position.

9. Bring the steering wheel down and toward you to minimize reach. The less your elbows reach forward and up the less the strain on your neck and upper back.

10. Put your head on your headrest. Now adjust the mirrors. If you start to slouch down or get in a bad position the mirrors will feel as they need to be adjusted and cue you to sit back up.

Perfect car ergonomics

Perfect car ergonomics

Don't do this!

Don’t do this!

Other tips:

For long carrides- slightly change positions every 20-30 minutes. Move your backrest forward a few degrees, turn the heated seat on, change position of the lumbar support, etc. Take breaks every 2-3 hours  and get out to walk around and stretch.

Leave your car when not driving. Whenever possible, do not use the car as an office. Using the laptop in the other seat creates twisting of the spine. Bending over to fill out paperwork causes your neck to flex forward unsafely.

Use your back doors. Don’t store items on the back seat or seat back pockets where reaching for them will cause awkward twisting, unless you get out and use the backdoor to remove it.

Have a wallet spot- Always remove your wallet from your back pocket before sitting. This causes the pelvis to twist stressing the back.

Get in and out safely- Put your buttocks on the seat first with your legs out, then rotate your body to bring your legs in.