Blog 52 – Driving

Somehow, a couple of months ago I was approached to give advice for Citroen car customers about how to avoid back pain on long journeys and now I am suddenly the “Citroen ergonomic Consultant! And never one to miss an opportunity I thought it would be good to share the advice as we go into the season of long car journeys and traffic jams on the M5 to Cornwall.

You might love going on road trips and feel quite comfortable sitting in your car seat for hours on end but be aware that you may be setting yourself up for future spinal problems.

With back pain being the number 2 reason why we visit our GPs and costing the NHS £1.3Million per day, it is not surprising to see that over 60% of drivers in this survey agreed with the statement ‘my car seat can make my back ache worse after a long trip’ and maybe more importantly, over 40% of drivers said that the car seat was the main cause of their backache.

According to a recent survey commissioned by AutoExpress magazine, a poor seating position in your car can lead to both back in neck problems while a slouched position can also compromise your safety.

A slouched position can alter the way you wear the seat belt, reducing its effectiveness while an uncomfortable car seat can also lead to driver distraction and loss of concentration.

Here are some tips that I have created to help.

  1. Make sure that your car seat is not too far away from the pedals. When you fully depress the clutch your legs should remain slightly bent.
  2. Make sure that your backrest is not tilted back too far. Your elbows should be slightly bent when you position your hands correctly on the steering wheel in the ‘10 to 2 position’.
  3. Make sure that you increase the lumbar support as much as possible to support the natural arch in your back to avoid slouching. If you do not have a lumbar support built-in, you can use a portable, dedicated lumbar support cushion or roll up a towel and put it behind your back.
  4. Make sure that the top of your headrest is above the top of your ears. If it is too low it can increase the risk of neck injuries in case of an accident.
  5. Now, stretch yourself up and make your spine as tall as possible sitting in an ideal posture. Set the rearview mirror so you can just about see the traffic behind you. This will help to correct your posture every time you look in your rearview mirror, because if you slouch you will not be able to use the rearview mirror.
  6. Make sure that your seatbelt is correctly positioned. If possible, adjust the height so it is not sitting on your neck and according to the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), the belt should be worn as tight as possible, with no slack and the lap belt should go over the pelvic region, not the stomach.
  7. On long journeys take regular breaks. We advise every 1 to 2 hours.
  8. Why not call in to the clinic and speak to a chiropractor if you are concerned about your spinal health and get your car seat checked as part of our service.

So when you are planning your next camping trip to Devon or royal wedding picnic please follow my (with now super Citroen credentials) top tips to help avoid the chance of getting back pain behind the wheel. Of course if you need any more help you know where we are!

As its Molly’s last year before school in September we are taking advantage of the last cheap holiday for years and going to the south of France for our Annual Summer vacation with my Mum and Dad in toe. I you think that I am too old to still go on holiday with my parents then you would be very wrong. They have an exquisite knowledge of the local wines and are not bad baby sitters too, honestly we are lucky they want to come! Enjoy the sunshine, I can’t wait to tell you all about it J.