We look at the top three reasons why you shouldn’t lean while driving, and the three things you can do to ensure you maintain good posture in the car.

Many of us spend a decent part of our life driving or commuting to work. The average one-way commute is 25 minutes in North America – that’s a minimum of an hour of your day spent driving. That is enough to develop poor posture and movements habits, especially right at the start of your day. Lower back pain and prolonged driving seem to go hand-in-hand, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Leaning over the one side while driving will eventually become uncomfortable on your lower back.

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The lean can stay with you all day

1. This position creates an “S” shaped curve in your spine. After sleeping, your discs have rehydrated and decompressed. Putting yourself in this position creates uneven load through the discs for a prolonged amount of time, creating uneven pressure through the discs of the low back. It also promotes having the head forward which can strain the neck and cause adaptive changes in the low back as further compensation.

2. Muscles adapt to chronic positions by adaptively lengthening or shortening. So after your 30-minute drive in that particular position, the body will naturally maintain some of that “S” curve once you are back upright or by the time you reach your desk.

3. This adaptation can also affect your movements patterns as the muscle progressively adapts to that position over time, especially if you go to work and spend your day sitting. Thus, you may have poor alignment while moving and there is a good chance you’ll even notice it because your body has already adapted to that position. That alignment may not cause issues initially but when it does it will take just as much time to undo it.

The following are ways you can fix your posture while driving.

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Sit the right way

Get in your vehicle and find a seat position where you can sit upright on the chair (raise the chair back if you have to) and comfortably have your hands on the wheel with a relaxed, mild bend in the elbows.

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Adjust your vantage points

Once in this position, alter your mirrors so that they will be most effective when sitting in this stance. Seated like this will be a constant reminder of optimal position while driving.

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Switch Your Sitting Position

For those that already have been in these postures for a long time, spend 5-10 minutes a day sitting in the opposite position for a few weeks just to help even out these muscle imbalances. You will notice that if you tend to lean right while driving, then leaning to your left will feel awkward. This reaction is your brain and body telling you that it’s a position you are not used to.

About the author

Before entering into the world of physiotherapy, Vitas was a patient himself having played professional basketball overseas. This experience has helped him gain a better understanding of client injuries.

Vitas always looks for the cause of the injury so he can provide efficient treatment to prevent future occurrences of the condition. His post graduate course work in SFMA (Selective Functional Movement Assessment), acupuncture, dry needling and various mobilization techniques has complimented his hands on treatment.

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