On the road…lessons on driving comfort, from a new ergonomist

This blog was written by Kristina Zucchiatti, the latest addition to our team.

As a new ergonomist, I spend a lot of time in my car, driving to and from clients. I’m certainly not new to driving, or driving long distances; I commuted to London from Oakville every day for 8 months, for my Advanced Ergonomic Studies Program at Fanshawe. I have quickly learned the importance of adjusting the settings in my car to reduce the risk of low back and shoulder pain.

Sitting in a car is not like sitting in an office chair. In fact, drivers report more low back discomfort than office workers, who spend a majority of their day sitting. When we look at statistics, the leading occupation for sprains and strains to the low back is the transportation sector. I may not spend my entire day in a vehicle, but I want to be as comfortable as possible, even for short traveling distances. After all, I have no back-up for my back!

In my car, or someone else’s, the first adjustment I always make is to optimise the seat fore-aft position so I can reach and depress the pedals without a gap between the backrest and my back. But the most important adjustment for me is my lumbar (lower back) support. Unfortunately, I drive an older car. Although it does a great job getting me safely from A to B, it doesn’t offer lumbar support height adjustment.

Whether I’m the driver or the passenger, I often carry a small pillow or rolled up hand towel, to support the inward curve of my low back. (Sometimes I’ll even use a sweater if I have nothing else handy.) Sufficiently supporting my back while I’m driving has improved the discomfort in my low back. Adjusting the lumbar support height is just one of many ergo tips for drivers.

To learn all of our “driver ergo” tips, how to assess a drivers’ position, and how to select vehicles that best fit drivers, join us on May 15th for our one day Driver Ergonomics workshop. Want us to train your drivers? Have us come in to present a one-hour driver ergo face-2-face workshop for your drivers!

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