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Driving can be a Pain!
In the neck and back

The summer driving season is finally here. I can't do anything about the financial pains you get from high gas prices, but I can help reduce physical pains in your neck, back, and legs.

Our body was not designed to sit in a car for long periods of time. Sitting distorts the natural curves of our spine causing muscles to become strained and also reduces circulation. Sometimes muscles will knot and spasm because of the reduced flow of oxygen-rich blood.

This article addresses ergonomics related to driving and provides tips to improve your comfort while driving. How do truckers, police officers, taxi drivers, bus drivers and traveling sales people overcome the misery of driving discomfort and pain? They drive ergonomically correct!

Do: Use your cruise control when appropriate. Do use a range of comfortable driving positions by making frequent small changes to help delay discomfort. Stretch your body every chance you get. Keep your wrists relaxed and in a neutral position.

Don't: Many people already realize that you shouldn't drive with your wallet in the back pocket. Avoid stressful "white knuckle" grip on the steering wheel. Don't lock you elbow all the way out. It's not okay to lean too long or too hard on your arm. Lastly, don't reach, it increases the pressure on the lumbar spine and can stress your neck, shoulder and wrist.

Back Pain: Use lumbar support. Ensure that it's shaped to fit and support your lower back. It needs to be adjustable to fit your shape. I use a lumbar pad to give me support above my waist where the back naturally curves inward. This trick makes my long drives more comfortable.

Legwork: Adjust your seat far enough forward to keep your knees bent and back straight and supported. When your legs are extended it can cause a strain on your back. Be sure to adjust your seat depth to prevent knee pit pressure.

Use Your Head: Adjust your headrest to relax your neck muscles. Your headrest height needs to be positioned so that the center of it is level with your eyes.

Stop: Sitting in one position for hours at a time can aggravate and even be a leading cause of back pain. Try to avoid driving for more than two hours without taking a break to stretch your legs. This will help to prevent fatigue, and relax your back. Listen to your body. One idea is to drink lots of water; this will force you to take breaks.

Driving ergonomics is about the limits of human capabilities and the ability to perform in any given situation. You can't control traffic but you can control the use of these ergonomic driving tips. Dave can be contacted at Dave@ErgoCorrect.com

Dave Pfeil
Copyright 2004 by Ergonomically Correct LLC

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