THE sunny weather has arrived and we can expect plenty of opportunities to load up the car and head out for some fun weekend breaks. Unfortunately, others may have the same idea! This can often mean uncomfortable delays in queues which can be torture for those with back pain. The British Chiropractic Association has issued a series of car travel tips to help keep pain to a minimum during your journey.
Adjustments for comfort
If you share a car, make sure the seat position suits you each time you get in. The back of the seat should be set slightly backwards, so that it feels natural and your elbows should be at a comfortable and relaxed angle for driving.
Steering without strain
Once you have adjusted your seat, your hands should fall naturally on the steering wheel, with a slight bend in the arms. If the wheel is too high and far away, tension will build up in your shoulders and upper back. If it is too low and close to you, the wheel may brush your legs, which will reduce your ability to turn it freely, putting strain on the wrists and the muscles of the upper back.
Mirrors and visibility
Your reactions must be quick, so you should not need to move your head a lot. The mirror positions should allow you to see all around the car with the movement of your eyes with minimal head movement. Set your mirror positions before you drive off.
Avoid wearing high heels, or very thick-soled shoes, as you will have to overextend the ankle in order to put pressure on the pedals. As well as making it much harder to perform an emergency stop, this position will raise your thigh from the seat (reducing support to your leg) and create tension (and possibly cramp) in the calf. This, in turn, will impair the blood flow on a long journey.
Relax and take breaks
A relaxed driving position reduces stress on the spine, allowing your seat to take your weight. Take regular breaks, at least every two hours. If you are stuck in traffic, exercise in your seat. Try buttock clenches, side bends, seat braces (pushing your hands into the steering wheel and your back into the seat – tensing and relaxing) as well as shoulder shrugs and circles. Allow plenty of time for journeys to avoid stress.
If the wheel is too high and far away, tension will build up in your shoulders and upper back
Article from TalkBack, Summer | 2018 (BackCare)
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