I recently took the leap into home ownership, which has, in turn, lengthened my commute to and from work. I often find myself getting restless on my hour commute, and although I don’t have the stress of dealing with city traffic, I find my body becoming uncomfortable and feeling the need to stretch when I get out of the car. I’ve realized many people across the nation deal with long commutes as they move to affordability, and here are some great tools I’ve recently learned to make the commute more comfortable, and a healthier way to travel.
Adjust Your seat: Your vehicle seat should not be too far back where you’re holding your body up as opposed to using the backrest to support you. Raise your seat up or down and find the point where you can roll your back into it. Your seat should then be in a position where your shoulder blades are actually touching your seat. The desired body position is not only better for your posture, but is also safer. In the event of an accident, a proper body position in your seat also gives less of a chance for your head to snap back, causing whiplash.
Mirror Position: Think about tilting your mirror up to have your line of vision looking upwards and in turn sitting straighter. To properly position your mirror, imagine a straight line going down your ear, shoulder, and hips which are the ideal seat posture. Ironically enough, this is also the ideal position when riding a horse!
Hand On Wheel Position: I can remember back to driving school teaching the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock hand position on the steering wheel. Not only is this considered the safest way to drive, but is also the best position for your body. Use this hand position along with pointing your elbows downwards to ensure there is no tension in the shoulders or fatigue in the upper back muscles. I will often think of rolling my shoulder blades back and squeezing shoulder blades together to ensure good back posture in this position.
Lumbar Support: Many newer vehicles offer lumbar support, and if this is something in your vehicle, ensure it is used to your benefit. Another alternative is using a pool noodle and cutting it in half so it fits on the small of your back. Using the noodle will take pressure off your back and create greater lumbar support. The pool noodle or lumbar support option creates a small arch in your back, taking pressure off the discs while also engaging different muscles. Although lumbar support can always be in place in your vehicle, the pool noodle gives a more extreme position and should only be used every 15 minutes for 2 minutes maximum per usage.
Many of the above tips are simple yet effective ways to bring wellness into your daily commute. Remember that getting worked up at the beginning or your day or the end due to another driver only adds unneeded stress to your life. Plan ahead to avoid the need to speed or rush, pack a tea or smoothie from home to enjoy the drive and have a good music playlist, Ted Talk or e-book to listen to on the drive. There are many variables we cannot control when driving, and the stress that we often create for ourselves on the road can be eliminated when we change our mindset. Safety is forefront on the road.
By Sarah Bamber