Driving somewhere special this summer for a holiday?
Some simple techniques for an easier journey
You want to get to your holiday destination as quickly as possible, I get that. But long hours at the wheel can take their toll. The result? A holiday filled with back pain. Not quite what you planned.
So, make sure you follow these simple tips to ease the journey:
Start with the initial set up position in your car:
- Make sure your steering wheel is fully up and fully forward.
- Adjust your seat height to its lowest position – this is not necessarily the position you’ll drive in, just a starting point to get the position correct. This is particularly important if someone else drives the car and may have adjusted the seat to suit themselves.
- Have the seat cushion tilted so that the front edge is in the lowest position.
- Try and ensure the back of the seat is approximately 30 degrees reclined from the vertical.
Now make adjustments:
Raise the seat as high as is comfortable to improve your vision of the road.
- Move the seat forwards until you can easily fully depress the clutch pedal and the accelerator pedal.
- Adjust the tilt of the seat so that your thighs are supported along the length of the cushion.
- Adjust the backrest so it provides continuous support along the length of your back and is in contact with your back up to shoulder height.
- If you can, adjust the lumbar support to give even pressure along the length of the backrest.
- Adjust the steering wheel rearwards and downwards for easy reach. Make sure you don’t have to stretch to reach the steering wheel.
- Adjust the head restraint to ensure the risk of injury is reduced in the event of a car accident.
- Adjust the rear view and side mirrors ensuring that they can be used without excessive straining of the neck or upper body.
Be mindful as you drive
If you’re the driver, taking care of yourself doesn’t end with adjusting your seat. Paying attention to your posture as you drive is extremely important to help avoid achy muscles.
Avoid slouching and consider using a small pillow to support the small of your back. Use cruise control if you have it, so that you can keep your feet rested on the floor– a position that is easier on your back and hips.
Now take a break
It’s really important to try and stop for a break every two hours, especially with longer journeys. Have a stretch and a stroll and you’ll be ready to roll again.
Even if your road trip is for adults only, stopping every few hours to stretch and walk around is a good idea. It gives your brain a rest, gets some fresh air in the lungs and will help improve blood flow throughout the body.
It’s not all about your position
It’s really tempting to fill your car with sweets or make a quick pitstop for a burger. But try and resist the temptation.
Take some healthy supplies for you and your fellow passengers. And take plenty of water.
Making sure you’ve eaten healthily and dunk lots of water, will help with your energy levels. And more energy generally equals less pain!
Don’t drive drowsy
Prior to leaving for your trip, try and get plenty of sleep.
Once you’re on the road, it is tempting to push on through those moments when you start to feel drowsy and tired. Don’t. Pull over for a break. Not just because of the obvious risks of an accident. But because it’ll be kinder to your back and your body if you do.
More than one driving adult in the car? Normally there’s one person that ‘does the driving’. Why not break with tradition and habit and split it up. It doesn’t have to be 50/50 but, if you’re the main driver, a 30-minute rest in the passenger seat will make for a much more comfortable journey.
If you’re travelling with children, you may expect stress to be part of the journey. But with a little bit of planning, you can minimise the stress levels and arguments! Really.
Pack some tech! Podcasts and audiobooks are a great diversion. A family playlist on Spotify is another great idea and if nothing else, it’ll stop the fighting over the stereo.
And, when you can, try some relaxation techniques. Deep breathing – breathe out for slightly longer than you breathe in for, even if it’s while all your passengers are asleep.
These may sound like obvious or simple techniques, but taking a little time and taking care of yourself, can make a big difference to the impact the journey will have on you and your back.