On Wednesday, we looked at the changes in automobile and furniture design that have altered how we sit and can be contributing factors to neck and low back pain. Today, we will discuss how to position your car seat to improve your seated posture.
In changing your car seat setup, the first thing to look at is the driver’s seat. Is the angle of the bucket seat adjustable? How much lower is the back of the seat than the front? If you’re curious, have someone take a profile picture of you in the driver seat and see what’s really happening with your posture.
Then, look at your own posture. Is your spine rounding forward into flexion? Is your head forward of the rest of your torso? If you feel like you can’t easily sit on your sit bones, try folding up a towel to raise the back of the bucket seat.
From there, take a look at spinal alignment above the pelvis. Your spine should not be in complete contact with the backrest of the seat, otherwise you are most likely rounding in your spine. There should be natural space between your lumbar curve and the seat, which can be difficult to maintain while driving.
Also, try to adjust the reclining angle of the seat to support an upright spine and head centered over your pelvis rather than angled back. If your neck and cervical spine are making contact with the seat or rest, your head is most likely pushing forward or behind the torso. While there are already musculoskeletal issues resulting from your head forward position, the most precarious issue in a car is the risk of whiplash. Misaligned head rests and head forward position increase the distance that your head bounces back in case of collision, and a weak neck and poor daily head alignment increases your risk for injury. (read more about whiplash and collisions here)
Check out Jill Miller’s video below from America Now on better sitting posture on airplanes, which pose a similar problem to sitting in cars. While you may not be able to stretch while you drive, you can certainly stretch as a passenger!
Enjoy your summer road trips pain free and help expand your bodily awareness in your daily activities with Yoga Tune Up®!