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Vehicle Ergonomics – How to set up your car seat and avoid pain

For some the picture to the right is not an uncommon feeling. Driving can cause neck, lower back, hip and leg pain. In this article we are giving some simple but valuable advise when setting up your car seat.

Introduction

Causes of discomfort

  • Static constrained posture
  • Increased external pressures – eg vibration
  • Duration of driving
  • Used as “office” – do you work out of your car
  • Recent vehicle change – shock to the system 

To minimise discomfort you need to look at:

  • User – How are you set up in the vehicle and how you are using the vehicle
  • Task – how long your driving, what type of road quality you are driving on
  • Vehicle – What type of vehicle, suspension, car seat set up
 How to set up:
SeatAllows driver to have full vision of the rd. Upright and tall is more ideal then low recline seat
Lower limb positionKnees should be bent to allow access to pedals. Knees should not touch steering wheel. 
Seat PanThighs support along length
No pressure behind knees (ensure seat is close enough to pedals)
Back restShould have continued support along length of back. Shoulders slightly behind hips (20-30 degrees)
Lumbar SupportAdjustable or not: should provide support along length of lumbar spine with no pressure points or gaps between spine and car seat. S shape spine is a safe shape. 
Steering wheelObjects and controls should be easy reach. Elbows/shoulders relaxed with hands below shoulders (do not grip steering wheel)Clearance of thighs 
Head restAllows neutral neck position and centrally located behind head. 
Mirrors Adjust mirrors to allow adequate vision without having to rotate or flex neck. 

Reducing the risk

  • Change posture regularly – vary styles of posture 
    • Back support adjusted 10 degrees either way
    • Move chair slightly closer or further 
  • Break for 15 minutes every 1-2 hours. During break incorporate stretches in break (ensure break does not also utilise a static posture) Change posture regularly – vary styles of posture 
    • Back support adjusted 10 degrees either way
    • Move chair slightly closer or further 
  • Where possible get out of the vehicle (ensuring safe location)
  • Like any functional task or activity – allow adequate warm up. Start your day with stretches prior to entering vehicle.
  • Avoid gripping steering wheel – avoid tense posture. 
  • Vibration – take note of vibration if hand is resting on gear stick.
  • Lumbar support devices

If you would like further assistant with vehicle ergonomics, give us a call to see how we can help you.

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