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Back Health in the Car

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Driving can cause:
- Neck pain
- Eyestrain
- Headache
- Wrist pain
- Back ache
- Hip pain
- Knee/foot and ankle pain

Both the driver and the passenger can stiffen up in a car during a long trip. While sitting for a long time in a fixed position it is extremely important for the passenger to alter his/her position from time to time and sit with knees bent and thighs level. Moving regularly and avoiding sitting with legs crossed allows one to be most comfortable. A good stretch, ideally once every few hours, bringing your knees right up to your chest gives the whole of the body a bit of a wake up. For drivers and passengers it is good to stop regularly, especially if feeling tired.

Is your car right for you?

It is very important to choose a car with an adjustable lumber support. Otherwise a wedge shape cushion is another way of ensuring that the pelvis is higher than the knees allowing the back to be in a more relaxed position.
An automatic car is obviously better with someone who has a weak back as pushing the clutch increases pressure on the back.
Choose a car with a higher kerb height to make getting in and out less of a strain on the spine.

Power steering also lessens the stress on the back.
The driver should place both hands together, pointing forwards. If the steering wheel is not offset then the driver is pointing straight at the centre of the wheel. The danger of having an offset wheel is that most drivers tend to rotate the middle of the spine to compensate for its position, producing long term back strain.

With the seat in the normal position, make a fist with the left hand keeping the thumb to the side of the index finger. You should be able to put the fist on the crown of the head. If you are only just able to put the flat of the hand between the roof and the head then there is not enough headroom. The driver is then very likely to compensate for this lack of height by slouching in the seat, which then strains the back and thighs.

Looking down at the legs when you have both hands evenly placed on the steering wheel, you should be able to see equal amounts of both legs between the arms. The left leg is often seen but the other will be obscured by the right arm. This may mean that the shoulder girdle is rotated to the left in relation to the pelvis.

After having driven the car awhile look down and check the position of your right leg. Is it elevated above the level of the left leg or has it rotated towards the edge of the ease? Is the right foot in line with the thigh correct position or has it had to move across towards the middle of the car?

What to do when driving.

When getting into the car, first sit down and then swing the legs in. On getting out, move the seat back and then swing your legs out.
Adjust the car seats to suit your posture and always make sure that you keep the seat fairly upright and slightly leaning backwards.
Adjust the headrest so that the centre of it is level with your eyes. If it is to low then more trauma can result after an accident.
Adjust the seat belt properly making sure you use it at all times. Children also need to be checked thoroughly with appropriate cushions if necessary.
Lifting unnecessary weights should be avoided. Be very careful when loading and unloading always remember to lift correctly.
Get out if you need to get bags from the rear seat and avoid reaching over from the front seat.
Rotating and lifting the shoulders to the ears before lowering them with an out breath is a good way of letting muscle tension go and relaxing more.



By Paul Maunsell
All rights reserved. Any reproducing of this article must have the author name and all the links intact.

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Back Health in the Car


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