Those at risk are the people who not only spend long periods of time in the car, but also those who make frequent short journeys in the car.
Research has identified the 3 groups most at risk:
School Run Mums
- Turning round and twisting to deal with children in the back – twisting to such a degree whilst sitting down is potentially damaging because your spine twists but your pelvis and legs are anchored.
- Having to reach into the car to lift children and school bags – the further away the weight is, the more strain on your back.
Reps on the Road
- Your attire – suits can restrict movement, and shiny soled shoes could clip off pedals, whilst high heels cause you to over extend your ankle.
- The amount of time spent in the car – not just driving but also using laptops whilst stationary. Rotating in your seat to use your laptop, or to complete paperwork, will put pressure on your spine.
- Lifting samples and equipment in and out of the car – bending from waist increases stress on your lower back.
- Sitting still in vehicle for long periods of time as it reduces the blood flow to the muscles and joints, increasing incidence of pain and fatigue.
- Vans boast a great deal of space in the back, but drivers space is limited and inflexible.
- Suffering stress due to time pressures for delivery drivers and passenger pressures for taxi drivers!
- Lifting and handling heavy items.
AVOIDING STRESS FROM DRIVING
Ensure that your thighs at 90 degrees or more in relation to your body. A lot of cars these days have bucket seats which promote a cramped position of knees higher then hips which is not ideal. A seating wedge may help with this. Also, ensure that the pedals are not too far away (stretching your legs out excessively) or too close (causing a cramped position). Also, make sure the roof is high enough so you are not slumping to see through the windscreen.
As discussed above bucket seats can be a problem. Also some cars can have doors that are very heavy and open beyond arms reach ,so you have to twist and reach excessively to close the car door.
Advice for All Drivers
- Relax – a relaxed driving position reduces stress on the spine, allow your seat to take your weight.
- Make adjustments – if you share a car, make sure you adjust the seat position to suit you when you get in. Make sure the seat is slightly backwards so that it feels natural and that your elbows are at a comfortable and relaxed angle.
- Take regular breaks – you should stop and stretch your legs (and arms!) at least every two hours.
- Cletch your cheeks – if you are stuck in traffic exercise in your seat. Try buttock clenches, side bends and shoulder shrugs and circles.
- Unload – walk around the vehicle before unloading rather than stretching behind you.
- It’s all in the timing – allow plenty of time for your journeys to avoid stress.
- MOT your body – we regularly MOT our cars, do the same for your spine – visit a chiropractor to make sure you are sitting correctly and safely.
- Pain is a warning sign do not ignore it.
If you feel driving your car could be causing you a problem, phone or come in for a chat and/or free MOT examination. Please ring 0113 228 9888 to book.
Yours in Health,