Small changes to posture and driving position could make driving more comfortable, according to road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist.
Discomfort and lower back pain are frequent complaints reported by drivers, but GEM says there are often simple solutions that can make a big difference for comfort and safety.
GEM has compiled a line-up of tips to help drivers and passengers enjoy more comfortable journeys. These are based on the process of ageing and how it can affect our ability to get in and out of the car, or drive around safely and in comfort.
GEM chief executive Neil Worth says: “As human beings we were not built to sit in a constrained posture, sometimes for long periods of time. No wonder this so often leads to stiffness and reduced mobility, especially among older drivers.
“Common complaints include lower back pain, stiff neck, foot cramps, sore shoulders and finger cramp.
“We are keen to help drivers by sharing a few simple tips that will help reduce – and hopefully eliminate – any pains or discomfort while driving.”
The Autumn edition of GEM’s highly acclaimed member magazine Good Motoring includes a detailed look at ways of alleviating back pain. It’s part of a long-running series on driver wellbeing created by health journalist Susie Kearley.
“Regular breaks on journeys are so important,” explains Susie. “Getting out of the car, walking about and stretching will help to relieve any muscles feeling the strain.
“Take a break whenever you feel your back muscles tightening. The more you stop and move, the less likely you are to end up with back pain.
“If you stretch and move before and after your journey, this can be helpful too, particularly if you’re prone to back problems.
GEM is committed to helping every driver stay as safe as possible. As Neil Worth concludes, reducing back pain is a key part of improving safety.
“Discomfort at the wheel can be a serious distraction on a journey, so it is vital to take whatever steps are necessary to reduce or remove back pain, allowing a driver to focus fully on the driving task.”
GEM’s tips for safer, more comfortable car journeys:
Take the time to plan any long journeys or trips on unfamiliar roads. Build in time for frequent breaks.
Adjust your seat to ensure you can reach and fully press the pedals without your back moving away from the back of the seat. Keep some bend in your knees, as having them too straight can cause pain.
Try not to slouch in the driving seat, as this is a common cause of back pain. Leaning forward can increase pressure on the back muscles and spine, so good posture is particularly important on long journeys.
Empty your back pockets before getting into the car. A mobile phone or wallet pushing into your lower back can misalign your spine and cause unnecessary pain.
Good Motoring, the quarterly magazine for members of GEM Motoring Assist, was first published in 1935. The Autumn 2023 edition will be published on 31 August.