The NZ Ministry of Transport released a survey in 2014 stating that people aged between 35-64 in New Zealand spend two-thirds of their total travel time driving. Just looking at the sheer number of cars on the road and the kind of traffic we experience here in Auckland, it doesn’t take a statistician to figure out that we spend a lot of our time in cars. All that time is enough to develop bad habits in posture and movement. Structural abnormalities in the spine tend to increase with prolonged driving, however, there are ways to maintain good posture and stop bad habits from developing.
Avoid “the lean”
Leaning back or to the side in your seat can create an S-shaped curve in your spine that puts uneven loads through your discs. This can contribute to structural problems such as anterior head syndrome and adaptive changes that lead to compensations in the natural curve of your spine.
The muscles adapt by lengthening or shortening and once they’ve been in that position for a prolonged period of time they’ll affect your movement patterns and contribute to structural shifts in the spine. Those structural shifts may not cause issues at first, but when they do it will take just as much time to undo it.
3 ways to find good posture while driving
- Sit right
- Find a seat position where you can sit upright with your bottom touching the back of the seat. Have your hands comfortably on the wheel with mild elbow bend.
- Adjust your mirrors
- Once you’ve found an ideal position adjust your mirrors so that you can use them effectively when in this position. That way you’ll always have a constant reminder to be the proper position to use the mirrors.
- Switch your sitting position
- If you find yourself leaning to one side, try to lean on the other side for about 5-10 minutes. Since the driver’s seat is on the right in NZ, we tend to lean to the left, so you may find it awkward to lean to the right. This is because your brain is not used to your body being in this position. Challenge it and then return to neutral. Constantly switching positions is ideal because it allows certain muscles to have a rest when they’ve been on for prolonged periods of time.
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