Picture the posture you hold while driving: can you even see it in your mind? Postural considerations in the car generally begin and end with two criteria: reaching the pedals and steering wheel comfortably. Secondary considerations include looking cool (leaning to one side, with one hand on top of the wheel), and being comfortable (slouching low in the seat).

Because sitting in the car is seen as a temporary activity, people rarely give credence to how their posture in the car could damage the spine. Yes it is true: the safest and most healthy driving position is not the most comfortable, especially for long rides. But if you can train your body to appreciate the benefits of good posture in your car, it will save you a lot of trouble down the road.

To be clear, I am advocating against looking too cool in the car: when you are leaning to one side, with one hand on top of the wheel, you are putting excess strain on the shoulders and shortening certain muscles in the back.

Not everyone has an adjustable steering wheel or the option of enhanced lumbar support in their car seat, although there are ergonomic back and seat rests that can positively influence your posture. In the meantime, keep the following techniques in mind and try to remind yourself of them as often as possible, to minimize the damage that could be accruing:

  • Always sit up straight against the back of the seat.
  • Try to keep your hips square, so that the pelvis is not twisted to one side.
  • Chin level, but head centered over the spine: sometimes it helps to let your head rest gently against the headrest.
  • Feet firmly on the floor, when pressing the pedals, and hands grasping the steering wheel at 9 AND 3.

These are simple tips which fall in line with general seated posture. The only difference being that people’s instinct to fall out of good posture is a lot stronger in the car. If you would like help installing a system of healthy posture in all activities of your life, or repairing damage that may have already been done, call our offices in New Jersey: in Ramsey at (201) 995-9900 and in Passaic at (973) 471-9585.

Dr. Moe Abtahi, D.C