Musicians' Health Collective

Musicians' Health Collective: Supporting the health of musicians

How Do You Sit When You Drive?

In honor of my epic road trip, let's talk about driving (and riding) in cars.  First of all, Car seats are evil- not just the ones for kids, but for adults.  Bucket Seats in cars are generally way too low, with the back end of the seat much lower than the front, preventing any sort of decent seated posture.  Do any of these positions look familiar?

Here are some classic car position stereotypes, although I don't know what country has the stick shift on the left.  This is what happens when you search for poor driving posture.

Here are some classic car position stereotypes, although I don't know what country has the stick shift on the left.  This is what happens when you search for poor driving posture.

What about this pairing?  Do either of these look remotely like a good idea?  The one on the right is supposed "healthy" but it looks pretty grim to me.  Any time your hips are much lower than your knees, it's difficult to sit comfortably for any length of time.  I do often see the position on the left though, so take note, that's definitely a bad habit to wean off of.

What about this pairing?  Do either of these look remotely like a good idea?  The one on the right is supposed "healthy" but it looks pretty grim to me.  Any time your hips are much lower than your knees, it's difficult to sit comfortably for any length of time.  I do often see the position on the left though, so take note, that's definitely a bad habit to wean off of.

Do you see how in both sets of images, the back of the chair is very low, compared to the front?  What an unhelpful way to sit for hours a day (unless you have a flinstones standing car)!  Now ignoring your sitting for a moment, what about your feet?  Are you gripping your toes together as your press the gas pedal?  And what about your left leg- is it just sitting out in space?  I love this post from Katy Bowman, because I too had a misaligned pelvis while driving, and while I can't say that all of my pain has diminished from changing it, I definitely feel much better while driving.  What about your knees?  Do they face the same direction as your feet or are you feet turned out by themselves?  See if you can keep your feet facing mostly forward and knees pointing in the same direction, to prevent knee and ankle tweakiness.

We can all agree that the super rounded spine is not great while driving, but this option on the right may be one of the better options, assuming that your seats aren't sportscar low.  The image on the right includes some sort of cushion under the sitting bones, and a lumbar support behind the mid-back. 

We can all agree that the super rounded spine is not great while driving, but this option on the right may be one of the better options, assuming that your seats aren't sportscar low.  The image on the right includes some sort of cushion under the sitting bones, and a lumbar support behind the mid-back. 

Try folding up a towel or blanket the next time you drive and place the blanket underneath your sitting bones, or ischial tuberosities.  See if you can get away from the super slouched, head forward, back attack position, especially if you're driving for many hours or going on a roadtrip.

Lastly, make sure to give your arms and wrists lots of breaks when not driving.  Constantly bending your elbows and gripping a steering wheel can compound existing RSI, and start to tighten up the tissues in your forearms.  If you're switching drivers, see if you can let your arms hang and keep your head in spinal alignment.  Lastly, try to give your eye muscles some movement when you can.  At rest stops, look side to side, up and down, and make circles.  Then alternate between looking at objects right in front of you with objects far away to give the focusing aspect of your eyes a break.


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