Is Your Commute Wrecking Your Posture? 3 Driving Hacks to Save Your Neck and Back
By Matt Franklin Submitted On November 17, 2014
According to US Census Bureau data, the average American commutes to work 25.5 minutes each way, and nearly 10% of us spend an hour or more getting to the workplace. Most of us configure our car seats for sub-optimal ergonomics, so our time spent behind the wheel wreaks serious havoc on our backs and necks. Our driving time, followed by eight or more hours hunched over a computer keyboard, is a huge contributor to the very real, growing epidemic of poor posture (and the back/neck pain that go along with it).
As a posture and ergonomics expert, I’m amazed when I see how most people position themselves while in their cars. Most people fail to realize that their seats are reclined way too far, their heads are much too far forward (causing severe neck strain) and their arms, reaching for the wheel, pull their shoulders into a hunched position. As a result, many Americans experience extremely sore backs and necks after even very short drives.
Let’s look at three simple techniques you can use that will instantly improve your behind-the-wheel position for pain-free, comfortable driving.
1: Avoid the 10 and 2 o’clock hand positions they taught in driver’s education
Driving with your hands toward the top of the steering wheel can pull your shoulders forward, which tends to collapse your chest, leading to a rounded upper back and encouraging a hunched posture. As an alternative to the traditional 10-and-2 position, try 9 and 3 o’clock positions, or 8 and 2 o’clock. You will notice the lowered positions of your hand will immediately open up your chest and allow your shoulders to be further back. This will lead to a straighter upper back and a more erect posture.
2: Keep your shoulders in contact with your seat back
This may sound like an obvious technique, but while driving, press your shoulder blades and shoulders backward into the seat back. Our natural tendency when driving is to round the shoulders forward, so reminding yourself to press them back every once in a while will help you to keep your posture upright while you drive. And if doing this makes the steering wheel too far forward to reach, your seat is positioned too far back and should be adjusted forward so that you can easily reach it. Most drivers keep their seats positioned too far back, which forces the shoulders to hunch forward while reaching for the wheel.
3: Make your rearview mirror remind you to keep your posture upright and straight
This is another very simple (and seemingly obvious) tip, but it’s quite effective. When you first get into the car, sit in good, erect posture, with your head held straight above your shoulders, your chin up and your back straight. Adjust the rearview mirror to this upright position and take your drive. Over time, we all have the tendency to settle into our seat, so when you find your posture beginning to slouch, you’ll be reminded to sit up, as your rearview mirror will now be aimed too high. Now just yourself back into good, upright posture and your mirror will be back in correct position. Just an inch or two of settling will make a surprising difference in the mirror position, so remember this powerful tip to keep yourself in upright, good posture while you drive.
Today, more than ever, we’re spending hours hunched over our computer keyboards and that, coupled with our addiction to smartphones, has led to the worldwide epidemic of poor posture. But the good news is that you can improve your back health and it’s never too late to develop the habit of good posture. For a comprehensive, online course in posture improvement and optimal workplace ergonomics, check out Matt Franklin’s class athttp://www.automaticposture.com.
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