Car Seats | Car Seat and Back Pain

Like sleeping, sitting in our cars is one activity/position which we spend a large portion of our week doing. Today, many of us have long work commutes which require us to spend over 10 hours a week frozen inside our car seats. While we are in our car seats, there is very little opportunity for us to stretch our legs or our backs, and we are required to remain in the seated position for the duration of our tips - until we get to our destinations. Many of us even have occupations as drivers, which may requires to spend in excess of 40 to 50 hours a day on the seat of a car or truck. The act of sitting in the same position for so long may take its toll on our backs - perhaps causing lower back pain. The toll that these car/truck seats take on our backs may be increased when these seats are bad, and have poor ergonomic support. Here are some recommendations on how to sit behind the wheel of cars and trucks without suffering from back pain.
  1. Don't slump or slouch in the car: When you are sitting on your car seat, your bottom should be pressed against the back of the car seat, and your back should be firmly pressed against the vertical part of the seat. You should be in a fully upright position, without a slumping posture. The slumping posture may be taking to the shoulders, neck, and lower back, especially long work commutes or vacation trips.

  2. If your car seat or truck seat does not offer you enough lumbar support, use a soft piece of clothing, a towel, or back product accessory to build enough support for your lower back. The part of the car seat that supports your lower back should hug the arch of your lower back, and there should be no empty spaces between and the vertical part of the seat. Many of the new cars have car seats that have a design that closely matches the arch of our backs, rather than just being straight from the top to bottom. For those that do not have good lumbar support in their car seats, there are companies that make lumbar support products for car seats. On the Relax the Back (relaxtheback.com) website, there are several different models available, including the McCarty's Sacroease Back Support, with pads and cushions that offer not only lumbar support for your lower back, but also a seat support for the bottom of your spine and tailbone.



    The lumbar support that you use, be it a customized back product or a towel, should fit the curve of your back up to the upper region of your spine. Your body should be supported by either the car seat up the back support, all the way to your mid ribcage area. Your entire spine - all the way you your neck and shoulders, should be in an upright position as you sit in the car and drive.

    You will know that you are getting an adequate amount of support for your back if you can feel that your lower back, shoulders, and neck are relaxed.

  3. When you step into the car, lean into the car seat with your hips. As you lower your body into the car seat, your hips should make contact with the seat before you pull the rest of your body into the car. This technique will assure you that you are now sitting on the back of your thighs and not your tailbone.

  4. Lift your back up. After your hips are in the car seat, you should then turn your whole body into the seated position. In the last step, you should upright your body and lean back into the back support you have placed into the seat as in step 2. Notice how your body feels after it has been placed into this position. Does your lower back feel fully supported, and are your neck and shoulders comfortable and relaxed? If so, then you have a car seat that fully supports your back and body. Stay in this position while you are in the car. Lastly, just let your head rest.

  5. Bring the car seat forwards or backwards to a position that will enable you to drive comfortably without having to slump forwards to turn the wheel or change gears. Bring the seat forwards or backwards to a correct position whereby you will be able to maintain good posture as you drive. The position of the seat should be such that your knees are slightly bent when you work the floor pedals. Your shoulders should be pressed against the car seat as you grip the wheel. Your elbows should be slightly bent as you grip the steering wheel. You should be able to easily see out of the front and side windows without having to bend or rotate your torso.