Sitting comfortably?

Handy hints and advice from our Physiotherapists in Poole for regular drivers

Love your car but getting aches and pains after repetitive or long journeys? Whether you are a professional or commercial driver, commuter or regular “school-runner” you could be at risk from musculoskeletal problems. Our Chartered Physiotherapist Rebecca Wyatt advises further.

Frequent drivers commonly experience varying problems ranging from shoulder, back and neck pain to headaches and leg pain.  It is important to recognise what is causing these problems and find suitable methods of managing them without going to the extremes of buying a new car! There are many reasons why musculoskeletal symptoms can occur from driving such as the ergonomics of the car and prolonged poor postures which over time can lead to the gradual progression and onset of symptoms.

So what can you do to help? Follow these simple car set-up tips as advised by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) to make sure you are sitting correctly.

  1. Initially reset your seat to its factory setting. The lumbar support should be neutral, steering wheel fully upright and forward with the seat height at its lowest and fully back. The chair should be reclined 30 degrees from vertical and the seat cushion should be forward tilted so its front edge is lowest.
  2. Now sit in the seat and do the following to adjust it to fit you. Raise the seat as high as is comfortable to ensure good range of vision. You need clearance from the roof! The seat height should allow for good pedal control. Make sure the seat is forward enough so that the clutch pedal can be fully depressed. When your legs are out in front of you, they should never be fully extended; aim for slight knee bend when you foot is on the clutch.
  3. Your back should be in full contact with the back rest, with no gaps or undue pressure. Use the lumbar support to ensure your spine is in contact with the entire chair. The back and shoulders should be in firm contact with the seat.
  4. If you are reclined too far back you will be prompted to “perch” forwards and therefore slide into a slumped poor posture.
  5. The seat cushion should be tilted so that there is even and complete thigh contact. Be aware that you do not cause pressure behind the knee!
  6. The neck rest needs to be adjusted to fit each individual in order to minimise the risk of injury in the event of an accident. It is not a complete solution to preventing whiplash or other neck injuries but it can help reduce the severity. Your head should naturally rest approximately 1 inch away from the head rest once all of the other seat adjustments have been made.
  7. Finally, the steering wheel should be rearwards and downwards to avoid over-reaching and tilting forwards. Aim to have approximately 30-40 degrees bend in your elbows.

The above advice can be found on the original CSP leaflet here .

The above information is aimed at being general guidance and is not a solution to any specific conditions and is not intended to replace visiting a GP or Physiotherapist. If you are suffering with any musculoskeletal pain or symptoms then it is important you seek appropriate advice and care. Our team of experienced Physiotherapists at Lilliput Health in Poole are more than happy to help whether you just require advice or a consultation.

Call the clinic today on 01202 725 090 to find out more or alternatively email the reception team on