How to sit in a car is never more important if you have back pain when driving every mile can be purgatory. Maintaining a functional 'S' bend with a lumbar hollow makes all the difference - which means you may need a lumbar support to stop the spine crumpling into a 'C' bend.
But sitting too rigidly upright is just as bad a sitting slumped! The idea is to be laid back, to keep your spinal 'S' bend. With the angle quite extreme, it will feel odd - even perhaps a bit 'too laid back' to keep alert. But, mark my words, this small adjustment will be critically important to your driving comfort and will make a huge difference to the future of your back.
The left graphic above is the ideal driving posture as it allows you to keep a gentle lumbar hollow. However, many people with a bad back lever the back of their seat almost vertical, as shown on the right graphic. Sitting like this requires huge muscle effort and keeps your back bad! Often, simply winding the seat back a few degrees allows the lumbar spine to arch back and to relax. This spinal driving posture also allows you to absorb the vibration better!
The seat back should be angled back to the same degree that your spine arches back as it ascends out of your lumbar hollow. In a sense, this allows the back at high-waist level to rest on the back support. If you are lucky enough to have an inflatable protuberance in the seat back you should make it as fully inflated as comfortably possible, as well as angling the back of the seat back.
Bear in mind that vibration of the vehicle makes fluid leave the discs faster. A slumped sitting posture greatly increases the loading pressures on the lumbar discs which also dehydrates the lumbar discs. So, you can see that it's doubly important to get your driving posture right before you start.
If your car seat does not have an inflatable back pillow and you are travelling long distances, then you need a pillow (ideally a soft feather-and-down one). And here’s a laugh (but not really because it’s deadly earnest) if you are travelling more than 2 hours you should wrap it around your back and tie it in place by a belt or tie around your waist. It may seem over the top, but it stays in place and allows you to relax.
seat back angled back correctly you can then afford to tilt down slightly the front of the seat, which also helps
take the spine out of a 'C' slump. What you must avoid, at all costs, is angling up the car seat at the front, as this will
raise your thighs and increase the slumping posture.
And just one more valuable tip: with acute facet joint irritability of the lower back causing pain beside your spine, you will find that placing a small soft mass, such as a pair of gloves or rolled up pair of socks right over the irritable facet will give you just the pressure the joint craves as you travel along.
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