Driving Ergonomics: Tips for a Comfortable Commute
Whether it’s part of our workday or our commute, driving is a regular activity for many American adults. Driving helps us to get around and stay connected with others, but long hours behind the wheel can lead to body aches, pains, and cramps if our posture and alignment are not correct.
Applying driving ergonomics tips to your driving routine can help you to feel more comfortable during and after your drive. If you regularly spend time in the driver’s seat, consider making adjustments to these areas before heading out on your next trip.
- Back tilt: The angle of your seat back, called back tilt, can sometimes be the culprit of back aches and pains when driving. Set your seat back so that it’s slightly reclined, and make sure to sit back into it for support.
- Seatpan tilt: Your seatpan is the base of your seat, or the part that you sit on. When sitting up straight and reaching for the pedals, the angle of your seatpan (i.e. your seatpan tilt) should be set so that your knees are slightly lower than your hips. This angle encourages you to sit upright and decreases pressure on the lower back.
- Lumbar support: The lumbar support region of your seat focuses on keeping your lower back pain-free. Adjust your seat pressure and angle so that you have even pressure from your hips to your shoulders. If you feel like you need more support, you can invest in a lumbar pillow or roll up a small towel and place it behind your lower back.
Protect your neck and prevent soreness by adjusting your headrest so that the top is level with the top of your head. Angle your headrest so that it touches the back of your head when you’re in a natural sitting position.
Align your steering wheel so that it sits 10 to 12 inches in front of your chest. Keep both arms on the steering wheel, instead of resting one on the armrest or your lap, to avoid shoulder ache.
You shouldn’t have to strain your neck to see when you drive. Adjust your mirrors before getting on the road so that you can easily look at other vehicles around you.
Adjustments to your driving ergonomics can be helpful, but adding regular stretch breaks can provide even more benefits! Pull over at rest stops—as often as every hour if necessary—to move your arms and legs by walking or stretching. This can help you to avoid cramps while also providing you with a mental break to recharge your focus and concentration.
Want to learn more about our expert health coaching team? Our national network of health coaches offers specific, actionable advice to help employees meet their wellbeing goals.