You may not wish to hear this but we have to break the bad news several times a week to people that their beloved car could be the cause of their bad back.
That does not necessarily mean that you need to change your car but it does mean you need to give serious consideration to how you sit in your car, how you have your hands on the wheel, where your legs are and more.
You may find that the design of the car is simply not right for you. There is a lot of very poor car design where the focus is appearance but ergonomically it is keeping many body workers (chiropractics, osteopaths, physiotherapists and other body workers such as ourselves as Bowen therapists) in plenty of work. What that means is that a part of us feels like ‘if you are happy with your car keep bringing you to us, feel free’, and we hope you hear the wry humour in that statement.
So, this is for you if you are interested in working out whether your car is making you hurt, and we draw your attention especially if you drive an automatic car and if you drive with just one hand on the wheel!
1. Check your car seating alignment
Sit in the seat and ensure your butt cheeks are level ie. not lifted on one side by the car seat having ‘sides’/being what is known as ‘a bucket seat’
2. If you are the passenger
Do not have your bags to one side in the footwell pushing your legs and feet to one side and putting your pelvis on a twist throughout the journey. Instead place your feet symmetrically in front of you with legs parallel with each other and the car door adjacent to you and then fit any bag(s) around your legs not the other way round!
3. If you are the driver
a. With your eyes closed put your legs and feet forwards in the footwell until your feet are by the pedals.
Does your right foot fall fairly evenly between the Brake and Accelerator?
Does your left foot fall either over the clutch or over a section where your foot can remain fairly symmetrical with your right foot and you can ‘pseudo’ pedal even though you have an Automatic car?
If the pedal locations relative to your feet / and the foot-well design push either of your legs and feet to one side and puts your pelvis on a twist throughout the journey then seriously consider whether this car is the cause of your back pain, neck pain and even of hip or leg pain.
b. Close your eyes again and with your elbows by your side and your arms bent put your hands forward towards the steering wheel with your forearms parallel to one another and the driver’s door.
Are your hands the same distance from the steering wheel with both on either the inside or the outside of the wheel?
If one is nearer to the wheel than the other or the steering wheel is in any way off to one side or the other then seriously consider whether this car is the cause of your back pain, neck pain and even leg pain.
Tensional symmetry is so important to keeping you pain-free.
Bowen helps restore symmetry and balance – getting back into a poorly designed car may re-injure you!