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How to Sit in a Car Without Pain or Stress | Evolve Chiropractic

Have you ever sat in a car and felt pain, discomfort, or stress? A lousy driving posture can put unnecessary strain on your back, neck, and shoulders, which can result in feeling a ton of pain while driving. Maybe you tend to sit with your head over the wheel to see what’s ahead of you or slouch down to find a more comfortable position while driving. Unfortunately, both of these positions will eventually cause discomfort instead of providing the relief you need.

We all know that sitting in a car for long periods of time can put pressure on your back and cause pain. However, most of us don’t understand that how we sit in a car is the biggest reason we feel this discomfort! If you want to reduce your pain, stop slouching, and find a more comfortable way to sit in the car, you’ll need to learn how to sit in a car seat the correct way. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know to take care of yourself while driving.

Why Does My Driving Posture Matter?

The way you sit in your car seat can make a huge difference in how comfortable and pain-free your ride will be. If you slouch or hold a rigid position, you’ll be putting painful pressure on certain parts of your body such as your neck, back, and legs. When this stress builds up, it creates unnecessary fatigue and pain to the point that you may need professional help from a chiropractor to alleviate your symptoms. Thankfully, you can easily avoid this pain and fatigue by finding the proper driving posture.

What Is The Correct Driving Seat Position?

While you might not think too much about how you sit in your car every time you drive, spending just a few minutes adjusting your driving can have a huge impact on your health. 

While every person will need to make their own adjustments depending on their weight and height, at Evolve Chiropractic, we’ve broken this process down to help make sure you’re sitting in the correct driving seat position.

  1. Start With Your Seat Height

First, you’ll want to ensure that your seat height is appropriately adjusted so that you can see the road, your car’s dashboard, and your mirrors without straining your neck. This is important because the height of your seat can impact the amount of strain we put on our bodies, especially if it’s too high or too low of a height.

When you have a proper seat height, you won’t need to slump over the front of your steering wheel or reach up to meet your steering wheel. The right seat height will allow your feet to sit flat on the floor. If you still can’t attain the perfect height after you’ve adjusted your seat height, you can always include a cushion for extra support.

  1. Adjust The Seat Position 

You’ll want to adjust your seat position, including how forward, back, or tilted your car seat is sitting to help find the correct driving position posture. You’ll want to move the seat forward enough to extend your legs while still keeping a slight bend of the knees.

Make sure that both feet can easily touch the gas and brake pedals while being able to shift between the two as needed. If you’re having issues reaching the pedals or you’re too far over the pedals, you’ll need to re-adjust your seat. Keep the incline of your seat upright with a slight recline. You want to make sure your back is comfortable and supported, not forced into an uncomfortable straight-back position. The right seat position will make it easier to support your weight without putting too much pressure on any part of your body.

  1. Find The Right Back Support

Back support is essential to make sure you have the best car seat position to help with any lower back pain. While maintaining the proper leg placement, you’ll want to ensure your seat is adjusted so that your back can slide all the way back into the seat, offering support and comfort to your spine.

If you have lumbar support in your car, use it to help support your spine. In newer cars, you’re able to adjust the depth and height of your lumbar support to help you find a comfortable, supported position. Wondering if you have the right position? Think about the curve in your spine if you were to sit with your back flat in a straight chair. The part where your spine would naturally curve is the ideal position you would want to put your lumbar support.

While some may try to use a towel or blanket if they don’t have lumbar support in their car, it won’t provide a long-term solution to your back problems. That’s because it won’t hold the curve or position for an extended period of time due to it flattening out or falling out of the position. 

  1. Adjust The Headrest 

To ensure the best driving posture, you’ll want to adjust the headrest so that you don’t have any neck and back strain. The height and tilt of your headrest will change depending on how tall or short you are, which means it will need to be changed if multiple drivers use the same car.

The top of your headrest needs to match up with the top of your head. You should be able to comfortably rest the back of your head while you’re sitting in your car seat. The headrest can usually stay in a neutral position and won’t require much movement. However, you might need to move it forward or backward to meet the back of your head depending on your height. Make sure that you’re not pushing your headrest out too far forward, as this can hurt your neck and create an uncomfortable driving position.

  1. Relax Your Shoulders Back

Make sure your shoulders touch the back part of the seat.You should not feel the need to hunch your shoulders forward.  If your shoulder can not comfortably touch the seat, try to adjust the tilt to make your chair more horizontal.

  1. Adjust Your Steering Wheel

You should be able to extend your arms out to reach your steering wheel while still being able to maintain a nice bend in your arms. If you’re finding it hard to reach or feel like you’re on top of the steering wheel, you’ll want to either move your seat forwards or backwards.

The height of your steering wheel should be adjusted to make sure that you can still see your driving dashboard without having to put your shoulders in an uncomfortable position. When your steering wheel is appropriately adjusted, you’ll be able to keep your hands on ten and two without feeling any strain or discomfort.

How Will I Know If I’m Sitting In The Correct Driving Position Posture?

The correct driving position posture will keep your shoulders relaxed, head resting, back supported and your feet grounded. You should be able to sit up straight without feeling any immediate discomfort. The tops of both legs should rest against the back of the seat, but the back of your knees should not be touching the seat to ensure your circulation is not cut off.

You’ll automatically know something is wrong if you feel pain or discomfort while driving or sitting in the driver’s seat. When you follow all of the tips we’ve mentioned above before driving, you should feel comfortable, in control, and supported throughout your drive. If you find that you’re uncomfortable, check in with each part of your body to see where the discomfort lies and adjust as needed.

Best Car Seat Position For Lower Back Pain

Following the outline above on how to sit in a car without pain or stress will help you find the best car seat position for lower back pain. However, adjusting your car seat isn’t the only thing you can do to help support your lower back pain. Here are a few ways you can ensure that you’re able to drive for a longer period of time without ending up with unnecessary back pain.

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  • Take Advantage Of Lumbar Support: When you’re in the car for an extended time, it’s always important to make sure that your back is fully supported. You can do this by manually adjusting your lumbar support. However, if your car doesn’t have lumbar support, you can purchase one that will attach to the front of your car seat.
  • Use Your Heated Seats:  Having heated seats in your car can help alleviate the discomfort of sitting for a long road trip. However, if you have a manual vehicle, it’s important not to overheat your rear end. The best way to do this is by only using the heaters when necessary and turning them off after about five minutes.
  • Get Out Of Your Car Every Hour: Try to take frequent breaks. It’s ideal to get out of your car every hour to stretch and give your back a break. You can try some light yoga, walking around, or even using a massage ball and foam roller to help alleviate some of your lower back pain.
  • Switch Drivers: If there is more than one driver in the car, try to switch who is driving every few hours to give each person a break. One person should drive while the other rests.
  • Take Advantage of Cruise Control: If you’re on highways and can use cruise control, try using this option to give your feet a break. This will decrease how often you need to press down on the brakes or gas, and how long you have to hold your foot in a constant position.
  • Consider Your Mirror Position: If your mirrors aren’t adjusted properly, you’ll have to continually crane your neck to see what’s going on behind or next to you. Make sure that you can see out of your mirrors from your seated position without having to readjust your seating position.
  • Use A Topical: If you can’t find any type of relief, you may want to use a topical on the area that hurts. While it will help decrease the amount of pain or tension you feel, it won’t solve the problem completely. This is a short-term fix to a bigger problem, so only use it as a last resort.

Find The Best Ergonomic Driving Position 

When you find yourself driving more often, you may feel increased discomfort or stress in your neck, back, or shoulders. Additional symptoms you may feel are headaches, neck spasms, or restless legs. If you have been experiencing a repetitive stress injury from driving too much, it may be time to take measures in your own hands to alleviate the symptoms you’re feeling.

Drivers must maintain an ergonomic position in their car by adjusting how they are sitting to support their bodies. Not properly adjusting your seat has been associated with spinal injuries, muscle problems, and long-term joint problems.

How you sit in a car is the most commonly overlooked risk factor for back and neck pain. Thankfully, by ensuring that you’re sitting correctly in your car every time you drive, you can lessen or completely alleviate the stress and discomfort brought on by driving.

Finding Relief From Bad Car Posture

Using your car to drive several hours a day may be taking its toll on you. If you still feel pain or stress in your back, neck, shoulders, and hips while driving, it could be the result of sitting incorrectly for an extended period. 

The good news is that chiropractic services can help alleviate these issues by correcting any misalignments caused by years of improper posture from being behind the wheel. Call us today at Evolve Chiropractic to find out how we can fix long-term damage before it’s too late!

{Note: This content is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your healthcare provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that have read on this blog or in any linked materials.}
The Evolve Chiropractic Team

The Evolve Chiropractic Team

We're a team of experts in the field of chiropractic treatment and we're dedicated to fostering incredible levels of health and well-being. What do you want from your Chiropractor?

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About Evolve Chiropractic

Evolve Chiropractic is leading the way for modern, evidence-based chiropractic care.  With 10 locations through Chicagoland and Northern Illinois, we have become the go-to solution for headache relief, neck & back pain and overall spinal health.

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