The daily commute to work, being stuck in traffic takes its toll on the body/mind, we can be impatient, irritable, stressed even aggressive. We forget we are human beings behind these machines. We become repetitive in our actions and reactions, resulting in many health problems.
Recent research shows driving causes a number of health issues. According to an independent study in the UK most drivers will suffer one or more of these problems.
81% foot cramp
74% lower back
70% side pain
70% headaches/eye strain
2 million drivers will report these types of symptoms after just 15 minutes of driving.
What is the cause of these problems?
Car seat design, one size fits all; stuck in a sedentary position for long periods, poor posture and driving positions, repetitive movements such as foot pedals; also gear changing, steering wheel manoeuvres and looking through the wind screen (poking the head forward – particularly people who wear glasses.)
Easy tips to avoid the damaging effect of long term driving habits:
Become aware of your driving habits. This is the first step to seeing what maybe the cause of repetitive driving strain.
One of the primary areas which causes problems when driving is the back not being in alignment and balance; this causes wear and tear on the joints and muscles.
Ask yourself the following and see what you notice, sense or feel.
Do you slump in your seat? Are you a little lopsided, or slightly twisted to one side?
Do you tense your neck? This is easily done when reversing?
Do you tighten your jaw tight or hold your breath?
Are your arms locked or shoulders tight when holding the steering wheel?
How tight is the grip on the steering wheel? Could this be causing tension in your shoulders, wrist, hands and fingers?
How hard are you pushing the foot pedals, which part of the leg/foot do you push with?
Think of driving with less effort and a little more ease. You can make simple shifts and adjustments which can make a big difference.
One of the most important things to consider when driving is your back.
The foundation of your back/spine is the sit bones, which are the bones at the base of the pelvis. If your seated comfortably and your bottom is right back is the seat (you should be able to feel them), and the car seat isn’t too sloped back, you will be in a position of mechanical advantage.
This means that your spine will be aligned, which will then give support to the rest of your body, such as the, neck, head, arms and limbs. You can find your sit bones by gently rocking on your bottom, this will help you establish the contact and support for your back.
Another good tip is to lie in semi supine after a long drive; watch the video link for guidance and instruction on this hugely beneficial practice.
If due care and attention is given to the body as well as driving you can eliminate and avoid many of the driving related problems.
If you find you do have recurring symptoms I recommend a series of lessons which will address many of the driving related issues that are becoming more common.