TASB Risk Management Fund

Ergonomic Driving Tips

November 13, 2017 Roger Ripley

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Have you ever been on a long road trip with few pit stops? And when you finally get out of the vehicle, you feel almost like you’ve been run over by one of the many motorists that you’ve encountered? If so, here are a few tips that might make that next long drive a bit more comfortable:

  • Use a pillow for the underside of your left arm when resting it on the door panel. This reduces pressure on the ulnar nerve, which can create tingling and numbness in the fingers and hands. Also, consider a pillow for the underside of the right arm resting on the arm rest, for the same reason previously stated.
  • Use a lumbar support pillow or cushion for your low back, if your vehicle is not equipped with a lumbar support mechanism. Try different sized pillows with varied thickness and firmness to find the right one for you. Sitting for prolonged periods puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the low back, so this support can make quite a difference in your general feeling of well-being and bodily comfort.
  • Use a soft flat pillow to sit on. This particularly helps with hard seats. It can serve two purposes – to reduce pressure on the thighs and buttocks and to help prevent compression of nerves in the back of the thigh, which can cause tingling and numbness in the lower legs and feet.
  • Use a cylindrical, circular-shaped pillow to place across your lap. Arms can be rested on this while holding on to the steering wheel. This relieves some pressure on the shoulder and neck area.
  • Change body and arm positions often while sitting at the wheel. Static arm positioning can create a lot of stress on the shoulders and neck.
  • Stop at least hourly, even if for a very short period of time, and get out of the vehicle. Do some shoulder and neck exercises and walk around a bit during the break. Also, a very important exercise when sitting for prolonged periods of time is the reverse back stretch or extension. Since the body has been flexed (sitting) while driving, it helps equalize the pressure on the lumbar discs. To accomplish this, place your hands on the back of your hips and lean backwards, holding this position for about 10-15 seconds. Do this several times for maximum comfort.

Give these tips a try and see if you aren’t more comfortable on your upcoming trips. Good luck and drive safely. 

Editor's note: This article was originally published in March 2009 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Tagged: Auto, "driving safety"