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Have You Adjusted Your Car Seat?

Do you suffer with:

Difficulty reversing due to stiff neck and shoulders?

Low back pain after driving for long periods?

General neck stiffness and tension?

Arm and shoulder tension?

Pain going into the leg? (Please check you are not sitting on your wallet!)

You may need to adjust your car seat!

For some, driving is the primary means of transport for journeys to and from work, also for some driving a motorised road vehicle is their job, for example truck drivers, bus drivers, ambulance, police, taxi etc.

Unlike normal seating, when a vehicle is in motion the body is subjected to different forces (acceleration, stopping and starting, lateral movement swaying from side to side and up and down over bumps) the feet are in constant movement on the brake clutch accelerator pedals.

A study by the Institute of Osteopathy, (previously known as the British Osteopathic Association), found that:

  • 54% of drivers do not have their seat belts at the correct angle.
  • 54% of passengers do not have their seat at the correct angle.
  • 62% of people do not have their head restraint positioned correctly.
  • 18% of people sit in a vehicle for 6 hours or more a week.

Half of all UK drivers do not drive in a position where their head is close enough to the head restraint, or they sit too far back for their seatbelt to be effective. This means that in an accident they would be at risk of sustaining a serious whiplash injury.

Only 6% of people adjust the head rest regularly, despite the fact that most people travel in a variety of vehicles (as drivers, passengers and in taxis for example). Half of the all drivers studied said they never adjusted their head rest at all.

1 in 7 drivers admitted sitting too close to the steering wheel. They risk receiving a serious chest injury as a result of being hit by an airbag during an accident.

Top tips to improve your posture and safety in the car:

  1. To be effective the seatbelt should be: sitting over the bones of your pelvis and not your stomach. This prevents internal injuries. It should be in contact with your shoulder to prevent serious neck injury. Sitting too far from the belt can often lead to submarining – where the person slips under the belt. This can cause catastrophic injuries.
  2. Head restraints work by catching and supporting your head in the event of a rear end crash and so reduce the chance of permanent soft tissue damage. A correctly adjusted head restraint should be as close to the back of the head as possible and as high as the top of the occupant’s head, meaning head movement in relation to their body is reduced as the car and seat is punted forward when hit from behind.
  3. Drivers with a gap of less than 12 inches (A4 piece of paper placed lengthways) between themselves and the steering wheel are at risk of receiving the full force of an airbag deploy, which can be over 200mph, in a crash involving the front of the vehicle. People who are shorter than around 5’2” (1.57m) often sit too close to the steering wheel and may be injured by the inflating airbag.

We advise that everyone takes the time to check and adjust their head restraints, seat and seat belt position. If you are not confident that you have your position correct, then call the Clinic to make an appointment and we will check it with you.

One extra tip from the Shefford Osteopathic Clinic team – take regular breaks! Driving today is more stressful and fatiguing with all the traffic hold ups, detours and the need to reach your destination quickly. When you take your break, remember to mobilise your joints and gently stretch. Drive comfortably and be safe!

This article was produced by Karen Robinson, a registered Osteopath and founder of the Shefford Osteopathic Clinic.