You might find that time spent behind the wheel of your car leaves you aching and sore. That’s because sitting still in any position can lead to stiffness or pain, especially when you’re not sitting in a way that supports your muscles and joints appropriately. These problems can worsen as we get older, so it’s even more important to choose sitting positions that protect your shoulders, neck, back, and hips.
The following five tips can help you find a more ergonomic seating position in the car, especially if you’re driving.
Adjust your seat height. You should be able to see out of your rearview and side mirrors, and you should be sitting high enough that you can easily view the road in front of you.
Sit up straight. Slumping leads to posture problems and backaches. If you’re tall, make sure any car you’re considering for purchase gives you plenty of head room. You should sit with your hips and buttocks resting evenly against the seat, and your shoulders squared against the backrest.
Adjust your seat forward or back, as needed. You should be able to reach the pedals without having to stretch uncomfortably. At the same time, you don’t want your knees bent too high and uncomfortably.
Adjust the steering wheel (or your seat) so that you can reach it comfortably. As with your pedals, you don’t want to stretch too hard to reach the steering wheel. On the other hand, you also don’t want it in your lap. Grasp the wheel with arms in front of you, slightly bent at the elbows.
Level your sitting position. Bucket seats tip backward, which actually isn’t a very ergonomic position for long periods of sitting. If you have the option, tip the seat bottoms so that they’re level. If your seats aren’t adjustable, use a towel or wedge-shaped seat cushion to create a level sitting surface.
These days, most newer vehicles incorporate a feature that “remembers” your preferred seat positions. So, if you share a car with your spouse or someone else, you can actually program it to adjust back to the right settings with a touch of a button. Check your car’s manual to see if you have this option, or ask the dealership where you purchased your vehicle. Spending just a few minutes to adjust your driving position can save you a lot of aches and pains in the future.