The sun is shining and for many the temptation to roll down the car window to feel the breeze with one elbow on the ledge is too much to resist.
While most motorists would have, a sports physiotherapy and rehabilitation specialist says it’s one of the bad driving habits that could cause you chronic injuries in the future.
Victoria Joyce, a clinical tutor at Liverpool Hope University, says drivers who were in traffic could adopt positions – such as leaning their elbows out of the window, sitting too far back, or even the wrong steering wheel to grab – this is bad for our body.
Below are her top five post-driving tips that will help you avoid future health problems.
Chronic Shoulder Pain: A clinical tutor says many truck drivers come to their physical clinic to complain about pain caused by resting the elbow out of the window
The physical therapist says poor posture behind the wheel can potentially lead to a variety of musculoskeletal problems – the main one being the dreaded lower back pain, or “LBP”.
Victoria, a strength and rehabilitation trainer and also a former track and field athlete, advises motorists to identify and correct any problems they get from driving before they develop into “chronic” injuries.
She explains, “Commuting to work, or generally long journeys, really can’t be helpful if a person is sitting in the same position for a long period of time.
“Various factors can play a role – from the vehicle brand to the interior design of the cabin to the position that the person occupies while driving.
“A seat that is pushed too far back, for example not at the correct seat height or even resting your elbow on the window sill while holding the steering wheel, can actually lead to painful irritation.
Victoria Joyce of Liverpool Hope University is a strength and rehabilitation trainer and physical therapist
“It’s even more problematic when you make a living by car, where habitually impaired posture combined with inactivity and the possibility of an unhealthy diet can contribute to potential health and injury problems.”
One of the most pressing concerns for Victoria is the impact of the commuting on sensitive backs.
She adds, “Although decades of research, diverse advice and new techniques have been introduced to solve LBP problems, back pain is a constant burden for our population.
“Since two-thirds of people who experience an LBP episode are very likely to have a painful relapse within a year, it goes without saying that avoiding further episodes is a significant benefit.
“Commuting to work with poor posture is, in turn, a risk factor for LBP that needs to be addressed.”
So what could you go wrong taking out on the streets and how can you fix it?
Victoria Joyce gave us her five best driver posture tips …
Too much force when pressing the pedals can cause lower back pain in riders, warns Victoria
1. Tips on sitting position
“The basic principle here is to sit upright – with your shoulders and head back – with the seat as high as it is comfortable and still be able to operate the car.
“Your legs shouldn’t be too straight or too bent when your knees touch the bottom of the steering wheel, as this could aggravate the hamstrings.”
2. Do not reach too far on the pedals
“When your foot is on the accelerator, your leg is in what is known as a plantarflex position, with your foot and toes in a pointed position.
“If your seat is too far back, you will have to reach for the accelerator in this position, and over time this can cause discomfort in both your extended leg and back due to poor pelvic alignment.”
Drivers are told that this hand position on the steering wheel is the safest and best to be in full control at all times. Victoria says it’s best for your body too
3. Hands at 10 and 2 o’clock are also best for your body
“Remember that when you drive a car you are exposed to tiny movements, small vibrations in the road.
“If you are in a poor position, these slight movements over time can even irritate areas of the body or make injuries worse.
“My advice is to keep both hands on the steering wheel in a ten-to-two position – the left hand is at 10 o’clock and the right hand at 2 o’clock – so that the body is in balance and these movements have minimal impact. “
4. An elbow out of the window leads to a summer trucker tan – and possible shoulder pain
“I had a number of truck drivers who came to see me at the physio clinic with shoulder pain. And it can happen to anyone who does that: place your arm or elbow on the window frame and hold the bike at the same time.
“Many do this without being aware of the potential problems that this driving position brings with it.
“For me, it’s about drivers paying attention to how their subtle behavior affects their bodies – because education is an important part of the rehabilitation process when it comes to injuries.”
Victoria says many visitors to her physical therapy clinic are truck drivers who have sustained chronic shoulder injuries by placing their arm on an open window frame while steering
5. Stay hydrated and stretch your legs during long stints at the wheel to avoid cramps
“If you are on longer journeys, plan to stop regularly – say every hour – so you can get out of the car and get around.
“This movement is really important – because it stimulates all of the vital systems in your body, helping you stay healthy while fighting off injury. Also keep yourself well hydrated.
“Many people restrict their fluid intake on long trips because they are concerned about stopping to use the toilet.
“But that’s not good for your body and leads to muscle cramps, loss of concentration and even injuries. It’s important to stay hydrated when you are behind the wheel. ‘
SAVE MONEY WHEN DRIVING A CAR
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