If driving is a regular part of your workday, you may experience occasional or chronic neck and back pain. In many cases, this pain occurs because improper seat position puts strain on the muscles. Relieving the pain may be as simple as a seat adjustment. These steps can help you find the position for your vehicle seat.
The 10 Step Plan: Adjust the Driver Seat in Your Vehicle
- Read the manual. Every car is different. Your vehicle’s manual will tell you how to make adjustments in your car.
- Adjust the height of the seat. Raise the seat to the highest comfortable position. You should be able to see at least three inches over the top of the steering wheel and have plenty of room between the top of your head and the roof.
- Adjust the seat length. If your vehicle allows, adjust the seats length so your knees are about two inches away from the front of the seat.
- Move your seat forward or back to the optimum position. Move the seat forward until you can easily push the pedals using the whole foot. If you can only reach with your toes, you will need to move closer. You may need to make slight adjustments to the seat height.
- Set the cushion angle. Tilt the cushion so your thighs are fully supported. There should be no pressure on the back of your knees.
- Adjust the back rest. Adjust the back rest so it fully supports your back when you are sitting upright. Don’t tilt it back. This can cause neck strain.
- Adjust the lumbar support. Move the lumbar support up and down and in and out until you feel even pressure from your hips to shoulder. There should be no gaps in the back support area.
- Adjust your steering wheel. The center of the steering wheel should be at least 12 inches from your chest. If you are any closer, you could suffer an injury if the airbag deploys during an accident. Tilt the steering wheel so the airbag points at your chest rather than your face.
- Adjust the head restraint. Raise the head restraint till the top of the restraint is even with the top of your head. The bulk of the restraint should touch the back of your head, not the back of your neck. A properly adjusted head rest can prevent neck strain and protect you from whiplash if an accident does occur.
- Adjust the mirrors. Check your mirrors to make sure they are adjusted for the new seat position.
You may need to go through the steps again in order to fine tune your seat adjustment.
If changing your seat adjustment does not relieve your pain, you may have a repetitive strain injury. A doctor can determine if work-related driving has caused your injury.
Drivers who are injured on the job are eligible for Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation. Learn more in our free book, Your Guide to PA Worker’s Compensation. If you have questions about your own situation, please call Mednick, Mezyk & Kredo, P.C., at 888-807-WORK (9675). We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case.