Driving Away Back Pain

June 19 2019
Driving Away Back Pain

Driving Away Back Pain

Famously, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American essayist, poet and philosopher is quoted as saying: “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”, but he obviously never sat in an over-heating Ford S-Max, in a two-hour traffic jam on the M6 with three hungry children and a flatulent dog over a bank holiday weekend.

According to the RAC, an incredible 22 MILLION cars took to the UK’s roads over the recent Bank Holiday.  That’s equivalent to the entire, combined population of the Netherlands and Norway being on the road.  Yet whilst the weekend traffic jams and hold-ups came nowhere close to the record 109 mile traffic jam between Lyon and Paris of 1980, or more recently the three-day hold-up in Beijing in 2010, sitting at the wheel for extended periods, with children arguing whose side of the seat their sibling is on is not only painful for the eardrums, but it’s also a pain in the neck (and back) too.

As many of us will be taking long car journeys in the UK and further afield over the summer holidays we’ve put together a few tips to help make the journey more comfortable.  As well as stocking the car with charged-up devices, treats, snacks and fluids (for occupants and car!) we’d also recommend taking time before setting off not only to ensure that everyone has been to the toilet but that you’ve adjusted the seats and steering-wheel to their most back-friendly positions:   (As Jane discovered only last week, and to her surprise, the steering wheel of the car she has owned since 2013 is adjustable!). Take care after adjusting your steering wheel and seat to ensure that your view of the instrument panel is not impaired.

Top tips for adjusting your seat and steering wheel*

1.    Seat Height: Your thighs should be as parallel to the floor as your seat will allow.  Where possible try to get your hips higher than your knees. You should also adjust the thigh support if  you have one to ensure you have the maximum surface of your thighs in contact with the seat.
2.    Pedals: You should be able to push the pedals to the floor whilst still retaining a bend in your knees.
3.    110°: Bring your seat all the way up so it’s vertical and then take it back until you are comfortable whilst maintaining a 110 degree angle between your back and thighs.
4.    Lumbar Support: The lumbar support should be adjusted so you can feel it support the hollow in your back but so it’s not causing your spine to arch more than is normal for you.
5.    Head Restraint: The height and angle of your head restraint should be adjusted so you can feel the centre of the support touch the middle of the back of your head, although it does not need to be touching at all times
6.    Steering Wheel: Once in correct seating position, bring your arm up in front of you and position the centre of the steering wheel to be in line with the fold of your wrist.
7.    Rear and Side Mirrors: Sit ‘tall’ and then adjust your mirrors to help encourage you to stay in an upright position on long drives.

*Sources and acknowledgment: