For many of us, summer is a time for adventure, travel, and road trips, but unless you have Fred Flintstone’s car, you end up sitting passively in your car for many hours. Car seats have evolved strangely since the early twentieth century – the early Model T featured upright seating and ample leg room, but as time passed, cars moved lower to the ground and added bucket seats, which were created as both a space-safer and a way to keep passengers in place (as opposed to the bench seat).
Basically, the bucket seat makes it almost impossible to sit well on your sit bones in your car. The seat is sloped, with the front of the seat higher than the back, which typically forces riders into tucked tail (posterior pelvic tilt), rounded spine (spinal flexion), and head forward position, which can pose many bodily issues. In addition, drivers often create pelvic asymmetry by ignoring the left foot rest, and instead allow their left leg to do as it pleases, for better or worse.
So what came first, the poor posture or the poor seating? The problems we see in sitting posture have been occurring for half of the last century, and perhaps, chairs are being designed to cater to that issue. At some point, furniture designers decided that comfort meant slouching and lack of muscular engagement, and that design translated to easy chairs, sofas, and car interiors. Then, factor in that most of us are sitting 10-15 hours a day, most often in this rounded position…no wonder Sitting is the New Smoking!
Some of the consequences of poor sitting, both in the car and in daily life, include pelvic floor dysfunction, vertebral disc wear, neck pain, upper back pain, and posterior chain muscle weakness, to name a few. To align yourself better in your car and have good posture while driving, ask yourself this simple question: are you sitting on your sit bones (ischial tuberosities)? To get a better idea of this concept and determine the best ways to sit in a car, read Trina Altman’s article, Happy Tail vs. Sad Tail: Which Way Do You Tilt?
Come back Friday to explore some ways to tweak your car setup and give your body some post-driving love.