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The real pain of commuting

By raccars Published

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We all know that our daily commute can be a pain in the neck but now research from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), has pointed out just how literally true this could be. The CSP has issued a warning highlighting the dangers presented by a bad driving position, which, it says, can lead to serious back, neck and limb problems. It pointed out that failure to properly adjust the driver’s seat and steering wheel could mean creating musculoskeletal problems or exacerbating existing conditions. This in turn, could lead to long-term pain and substantial time off work.

According to the National Travel Survey of 2011, six out of ten of us commute to work by car. That makes a total of more than 16 million people who arrive at work as either the driver or passenger of a car every working day. Chartered physiotherapist, Joshua Catlett, explained the issue: "Both people and cars come in different shapes and sizes, and no one size fits all. Most people understand the importance of ensuring that their office workstation is individually suited to them but the car is often overlooked. It is so important to be aware of your posture when driving. Persistent poor sitting posture can contribute to musculoskeletal pain and discomfort."

The CSP has published a useful document entitled ‘Drive Clear of Pain.’ This provides a simple guide on how to drive in more comfort and prevent causing any back pain. Some tips include keeping the driver’s seat raised as high as possible, to provide a better view of the road and prevent craning the neck to see around obstacles. Drivers should also move the seat forward far enough so that all pedals can be fully depressed without stretching. The driver should be close enough to the wheel to steer with the arms bent at an angle of between 30 and 40 degrees. On longer drives, drivers should remember to take a 15 minute break every two hours. Getting out of the car and stretching the legs is also recommended where it is safe to do so. The CSP’s recommendations also create a more alert, comfortable and therefore safer driver, which can only be good for all road users.

The CSP’s advice document ‘Drive Clear of Pain’ is primarily aimed at professional drivers, such as lorry drivers, bus drivers and taxi drivers but there can be no doubt that for those who are involved in daily long commutes, the advice could be invaluable.

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