Spinal Stenosis and Correct Driving Posture

By Ehren Allen, PT, CMT

Back Pains and Driving

There is usually not a day when we don’t spend some time driving. Unfortunately, sitting in a car is just not the same as sitting in a chair. When a car is in motion the body is subject to different forces from accelerating and decelerating, movements side to side, and vibrations. These movements can all negatively impact a person with lumbar issues.

One back issue that can be negatively impacted with driving position is spinal stenosis. This is a condition where the spinal canal becomes narrowed and leads to crowding and compression of the spinal nerves. The way you position your car seat can play a major role on if you have a good or bad back day.

Back pain while driving

Image of man with back pain.

Correct car seat position

Seated cushion length: The back of your knees should be about 1-2 inches from the front of the seat cushion.

Seat Forward Position: Move your seat forward until there is a slight bend in your knees and you can easily push the pedals with the whole foot.

Seated Cushion Angle: Tilt the seat cushion until your thighs are fully supported but without pressure at the back of the knees.

Seated Back Rest: Should support the complete length of the back while sitting upright. This should be slightly reclined at about 110 angle.

Lumbar Support: Should be adjusted to allow even pressure along your back. There should be no gaps or pressure points in the back area.

Steering Wheel: The steering wheel should be adjusted for both height and tilt so it is about 10-12 inches from your chest and both your elbows are slightly bent.

Headrest: The top of headrest should be even with the top of your head. The angle of the headrest should be just touching the back of your head with correct sitting posture.


Most modern cars have the seat and steering wheel functions to allow these adjustments. So pay attention to your driving posture and make it a good back day.


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