Ten Tips for Healthier and Happier Driving
- Choosing your car. When buying/renting a car, make sure the foot pedals ie accelerator, brake, clutch are positioned so that your legs do not have to be at an awkward angle to operate them. If they aligned inappropriately it can cause unnecessary stress on your lower back and can be quite uncomfortable.
- Seat position. Adjust your seat position so that a) the part of the seat that you sit on is as horizontal as possible I.e. parallel to the ground, b) the angle of the back of the seat to the part you sit on is between 100 and 110 degrees, c) the seat is slid back far enough so that when your clutch foot is pushed down to the floor your thigh is in firm contact with the seat and d) the knees are bent to about 60 degrees when the pedals are depressed. Adjust the lumbar support for comfort.
- Adjust your steering wheel. If your steering wheel is adjustable, make sure that your arms are neither too extended nor too bent. Ideally, your elbows should be about 60 degrees bent when gripping the steering wheel.
- Getting in and out of the car. If you have back problems, stiff hips or maybe you’ve had hip, back or lower leg surgery recently, to get into the car, sit your bottom in first then swing your legs in one at a time. To exit the car, swing your legs out first one at a time then stand up with both feet flat on the ground. It may also be easier if you park slightly away from the curb on the side you intend to get out from, so that your feet are at a lower level on the ground to enable easier standing up.
- Ventilation. During times when you may have air vents/air conditioning in use in the car, make sure that they are not aimed at your neck area which may predispose you to problems with a stiff neck.
- Maintaining mobility. Keep your joints moving in the car at every safe opportunity i.e. traffic lights, traffic queues, refuelling stops and rest stops.
In car exercises:
Shrug your shoulders up and down
Move shoulders forwards and backwards
Rotate your neck slowly to left then right
Tilt your head slowly from side to side
Bend and straighten your elbows
Alternately lift your thighs off the seat
Alternately lift your heels off the floor then pull your toes up towards you.
- Remember to breathe. Take a few deep breaths in and out periodically when in the car particularly if you have been under stress in heavy traffic or tough driving conditions. Deep breathing is very helpful to assist in relaxation.
- Hydration. Drink plenty of water before driving any distance and stop to refuel with water regularly to keep your body more alkaline. If you reduce the acidity of the body it can reduce the potential for drowsiness.
- Plan to walk. When parking the car avoid the temptation to park as near to your venue as possible but park so that you get a good healthy walk instead to keep your joints, muscles and circulation moving.
- Use other modes of transport. Finally if you can walk or cycle instead of driving even better for the good health of all!!