The way you sit in your drivers seat can either mean a joyful drive or a miserable one.
As travellers we can spend long stretches of time behind the wheel. The trouble with that is, our bodies were designed to move. If we are static for long durations, our muscles are no longer acting like sponges… squeezing out blood with contractions, and soaking it back up with relaxation. Besides compromising our circulation, our driving posture places our joints in more vulnerable positions. This is why it’s so important to take the time to set up your seat. You want your driving posture at its most optimal to ensure you’re protecting 3 things: joints, circulation, and safety.
Good driving posture comes down to 5 basic steps. As long as you keep in mind the motivation behind the adjustments, like keeping your joints as open and neutralized as possible for both less strain on them AND better circulation, then the rest of it should start to make sense.
5 Steps for Healthy Driving Posture
STEP #1: Adjusting your distance from the steering wheel
- Move seat forward enough so that your heel remains down when depressing either pedal.
- Knees should be bent around 120 degrees even when the pedals are depressed. (Any less than that decreases leg circulation.)
STEP #2: Adjusting Your Bottom Seat Cushion
- Make sure your hips and knees are either in line, or your knees can be lower than hips. (This opens your hips for better circulation and places less strain on low back).
- Assure that you feel equal pressure all along the backs of your thighs. (If not, you might want to consider adding a wedge cushion).
- Do the 2-finger measurement test. Place 2 fingers on the back of your knee to see if you’ve got enough space there so the seat edge is not cutting off your circulation. (Shorter people, you may need to add a back rest cushion to achieve this.)
STEP #3: Adjusting Your Back Rest
- Recline the back rest to an angle of 100-110 degrees. (This improves circulation through your hips and decreases pressure on your spine. Reclining any more than that places strain on your neck.)
- Adjust the lumbar support so you feel even pressure all along your back. (If you’re unable to adjust your seat so you feel even pressure, consider adding a lumbar cushion).
STEP #4: Adjusting Your Steering Wheel
- Bring the steering wheel down and toward you to lessen the strain on your shoulders, neck, and upper back.
- Ensure your shoulders remain against the backrest when you’re holding the wheel, and your elbows are not locked out.
- Hold the steering wheel at 9 and 3 (or lower if you can do so safely) to take strain of your shoulders, neck, and upper back.
- Be symmetrical, so both hands are holding the wheel in the same way. Don’t drive with one hand on top of wheel. (That forces your shoulder off the back rest and is taxing on your spine. Plus it’s less safe.)
- Keep your wrists neutral (straight) as much as you can. Over-flexing or extending them for long periods causes strain on the muscles and ligaments, and it cuts off circulation to the hands.
STEP #5: Adjusting Your Head Rest
- Raise the top of the headrest between the top of your ears and the top of your head.
- Ensure the back of your head comes in contact with it comfortably.
- If you can do so comfortably, use it occasionally while driving! (It gives your neck a break from holding up your head.)
Then there’s the common sense things, like taking your wallet out of your back pocket, taking frequent driving breaks, switching drivers if possible, and limiting how much driving you do in a day… all of that will also play a role on how well you feel coming out of the drive. That’s what this whole thing is about anyways, feeling energised, healthy, and ready to enjoy the adventure!