Friday, October 12, 2012

5 Tips to Keep Your Spine Aligned While Driving

In 2005, the Census Bureau reported that Americans, on average, spent more than 100 hours commuting to work per year, with the average commute lasting 24.3 minutes.  According to the American Community Survey (ACS), the longest commutes happening within the country, were most prominent on the East coast:

The cities fortunate to have a shorter commute time average were: 

Corpus Christi, Texas (16.1 minutes)
Wichita, Kansas (16.3 minutes)
Tulsa, Oklahoma (17.1 minutes) 
Omaha, Nebraska (17.3 minutes)

As a chiropractor, these amount of time spent commuting concerns me, and this doesn't account for the time spent driving to the grocery store, taking children to school, extracurricular activities, vacations, etc.   Many of the patients I see have problems stemming to how they sit in their vehicle as they commute, and many are who work from their vehicle.  Here's a list of tips to help keep you comfortable and healthy during those accumulated hours spent in your vehicle.

5 Tips to Keep Your Spine Aligned While Driving

1) Seat position matters.  Position your seat so you can reach the pedals and steering wheel with ease.  Your back should not come away from the seat as you reach for the peddles are make other driving movements.  Lumbar support may be necessary if your car lacks sufficient lumbar support.
2) Adjust your headrest.  Your headrest should center the back of your head. 
3) Rest your hands properly.  The days of 10 and 2 are gone.  9 and 3 is key!  By placing your hands in the 9 and 3 position your shoulders are able to relax.  Be mindful to not rest your wrists at 12 o'clock or clench the steering wheel.  These movements can cause numbness.  Also, be mindful of how you reach for the stick-shift.  Adjusting seat placement and/or back position to meet comfort levels is necessary.
4) Smart Phone Neck.  Americans are enthralled with smart phones.  Consider the amount of time you spend looking at your phone and for how you tilt your head down as you read your email, messages etc.  Over time, tilting the head in a downward position can strain the ligaments in the neck.
5) Working in vehicle.  There is a large amount of the workforce that works from their vehicle--ie. plumbers, police officers, service technicians, etc.  When possible, take your work indoors--inside a coffee shop, the office or to the park, to free your back from the twists and turns that working inside a vehicle requires.

As an expert in ergonomics, I am happy to check patients sitting in their car.  Call to set up your time for me to do a quick seat/position check.

Unofficial Pole:  How long are you in your vehicle on an average day.  For me it's 35 minutes.

Best in health, naturally,
Dr. Marc

Google Images
US Census Bureau

Other good links:
Seats to look for when buying a car


Vehicle Insurance Solutions October 19, 2012 at 3:36 AM  

Comfort is everything. This is especially true even with driving. It can help drivers enhance their wellness and avoid spine problems. Thanks for the additional information.

Sami July 31, 2013 at 4:55 AM  

Thanks for the useful information, for me point #3 is the most important one and also don't drive while you are on your cellphone.

Btw if you need cheap car insurance quotes in South Africa you can go to, they are very good and compare up to 8 quotes!

Health Disclaimer

This information on this web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting Dr. Marc, your pediatrician or family doctor.

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