SUV’s are getting very popular in our community. Accounting to news.com.au, Aussies buy twice as many SUVs as sedans now, and utes. There are lots of factors for us to pick our dream car – have you considered your health as one of them?
The major difference between a SUV and sedan would be height and size. The higher the car dimensions means the higher the seat could be. When considering ergonomics and driving for a prolonged period of time, the height of the car seat plays an important role in a driver’s comfort.
Multiple studies looked into the health and associated risk factors of professional drivers (Truck drivers, bus drivers, etc.).(1-3) They found a high percentage of professional drivers have musculoskeletal problems (neck pain and lower back pain), a higher rate of lung cancer (almost 20% higher than non-driver) and digestive problems such as indigestion and reflux.(1-3) The cause of their occupational health problems is multifactorial, including exposure to a prolonged period of vibrations, poor ergonomics, increased spinal load, heavy lifting, and exposure to exhaust gas, etc.(1-3) Moreover, researchers looked deeper into those drivers who experienced fewer musculoskeletal problem. The likelihood of getting sore muscles significantly lower when the driver’s hip is at knee height and arms are below shoulders while driving.(2)
Coming back to daily commuters, a higher seat and head clearance height would provide advantages for the driver to stay in a more favorable posture. ONE MORE big factor contributing to driving associated neck or shoulder pain is the recline angle. Drivers bend their neck forward when the car seat is reclined too far back (almost flat). Recent research indicates the loading to the cervical spine in a flexed forward position can cause up to 4 times the original shearing load and up to 1.6 x compression loading through the neck (4).
For these reasons SUV is the winner! For people who love to drive a smaller sedan in the city, sports car or you have health issue that is impractical to climb up to a higher car, we have a simple solution for you. Prevention! Prevention! Prevention! Adjust your seat height, follow proper ergonomics, put a cushion underneath, use a neck pillow.
If you or your love ones are experiencing health issues that maybe associated with prolonged driving or sedentary posture, have a chat with our chiropractors and see whether we can help manage your issues!
1. Tsoi CT, Tse LA. Professional drivers and lung cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Occupational and environmental medicine. 2012;69(11):831-6.
2. Bovenzi M. A prospective cohort study of neck and shoulder pain in professional drivers. Ergonomics. 2015;58(7):1103-16.
3. Taklikar C. Occupational stress and its associated health disorders among bus drivers. Int J Community Med Public Health. 2016;3(1):208-11.
4. Barrett JM, McKinnon C, Callaghan JP. Cervical spine joint loading with neck flexion. Ergonomics. 2020;63(1):101-8.