Here we are in 2020 and happy to have spent Christmas holidays with family and friends. Maybe you too had to travel a long way to be with the ones you love. In order to avoid aches and pain from travelling many hours, here are a few tips to correct your posture and help you next time you need to drive long distances.
What is important to remember is that it is good positioning that keeps your mind alert, your senses sharp and your limbs responsive as road conditions change.
That is why it is essential to avoid sloughing at the wheel and to keep alert but not tensed.
One important thing we sometimes forget is to dress comfortably for the trip. Use clothes that do not fit too tightly to your body, so you have better circulation and use comfortable shoes. If it is cold season, use a sweater that will keep you warm, so you do not have to overheat the car. Too warm temperature can make you feel sleepy.
Before you leave, make sure you set your seat, your mirror and your wheel at the right position for you.
The driver’s seat should have the back straight so you can have your hands on the wheel while your shoulders still have contact with the seat, meaning your arms are not in a complete extended position.
To relieve pressure at the back of your legs, you can set the seat slightly lower at the front part but not too low to avoid not having any support at the knee level. You can also use a back support to relieve some muscle fatigue due to long hours of sitting.
Make sure your seat is at the right distance from the pedals. It is recommended to use the frontal part of the feet to pressure the pedals, so make sure you are not too far away so you don’t have to stretch to reach the pedals.
It is also a good idea to incline the rearview mirror upwards. That allows you to keep a straight posture without bending or twisting your neck and it keeps your spine in an optimal alignment which will support your postural muscles.
The headrest needs to be well adjusted too.
Your headrest is there to protect your neck in case of impact. It has to be adjusted at 10cm from your head, the middle of the head rest at the level of your eyes and the lower border at the level of your ears. The reason why it is set slightly higher up is because in the case of an impact, the body is usually lifted up from the seat. If the headrest is too low, it acts as a lever that can propel your head backwards and your neck in hyper extension which can cause serious injuries to your spine.
The positioning of the wheel is also important. Make sure you incline it to a comfortable position. When it is a retractable and inclining wheel, make sure the superior part is at the level of your chin. Position your hands at 9h15 which will optimise your reaction time in case of having to do a quick manoeuvre.
We recommend stopping often, about every two hours. That will allow you to stretch your legs, walk around and do a few exercises to relieve the tensions. Stretch and bend your legs a few times, bend the knees, flex the hips, rotate your ankles, do a few head movements first into flexion and then from side to side. Move your arms and rotate your shoulders a few times. These movements will help you stimulate blood circulation and ease the muscle tensions.
If you use the highway for a long trip, you can set your seat just a click backwards and incline your seat just a little tiny bit to the back. That will allow you to be more comfortable for the cruising speed.
Remember that your body absorbs the vibrations from the road, all the turns and the accelerations and decelerations. If you feel pain in your back or neck or anywhere, do not hesitate to consult a chiropractor.
As we regularly check our car’s vital signs for proper maintenance (oil and water levels, proper alignment of the wheels, tire pressure) and take it to the mechanic every so often to make sure it perform at its best, we should treat ourselves and our spine the same preventative way or even better.
Check your nearest spine “mechanic”, a chiropractor, and schedule a check-up to start 2020 better aligned than ever.
By Sandra Genest-Boudreau | Christophe O. Alves
Sandra Genest-Boudreau is French-Canadian, who graduated from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in 1990 before coming to the Algarve in 2002. She is passionate about adjusting all her patients, particularly children. Christophe Alves graduated from the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic (AECC) UK, and has a special interest in Sport Chiropractic. Algarve Quiroprática clinic: EN125 in Pêra | 282 312 853 | 969 397 375
Licença da ERS n.º 17485/2019 de 11-06-2019