Sitting Posture while in the Car

Guest Post by Tracy Hartley PT, DPT

Driver’s Seat Ergonomics and Adjustment: Easy as 1, 2, 3!

For those of you that spend much of your day in the car, you have probably heard and thought about ergonomics. Ergonomics sounds familiar to many people working in the office or factory. But, very few pay attention to adjusting their driver’s seat to be ergonomically correct. Even the safety officers in your workplace find that ergonomics is a mystery when it comes to adjusting your automobile’s driver seat.

Literally, the term ergonomics means “work within natural laws.” For our purpose we will use the following updated version, “the applied science of equipment design intended to maximize productivity and safety by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort.” The importance of ergonomics goes beyond productivity and fatigue as its role in preventing or reversing chronic and overuse injuries is well documented and established. Automobile seating ergonomics may be mysterious with a lot of science and research thrown into the equation. But, the basics of driver seat adjustment can be as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Here is how to have the correct sitting posture while in your car in less than 1 minute:

  1. Seat height needs to be at a level that your thighs maintain a resting position with equal weight distributed along the entire backside. This position will be a combination of adjusting the seat height and distance forward and backward. Start with seat height first. Then adjust your seat forward or backward so that your left foot rests comfortably on the floor while your right foot can easily reach the controls. You may have to again slightly adjust seat height again to get the perfect fit.
  2. Next, adjust the angle of incline of the seat back to allow you to reach the steering wheel and turn signal with elbows bent to about 45 degrees when your hands are in the 10 and 2 O’clock position on the steering wheel.
  3. Finally, adjust the height of the steering wheel to allow you to maintain all of the postures above while optimizing your view of the dashboard and its indicators.

Such simple adjustments for back relief while driving! What are you waiting for? Summer is nearly upon us and you are now ready for that well deserved road trip!

Read more from A Doctor and a Nurse.

Do you spend a lot of time in your car? Share your stories of back relief from these easy steps!

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Photo 2 via


  1. Great to see a post from Jana’s other half! 🙂

    I was actually thinking about this topic the other day as I was driving. Although my car doesn’t allow for height adjustment, I might manually add a booster blanket in there to make it as aligned as possible!

  2. You mean my better half! Doc will is always harping at me about posture, body alignment and ergonomics. He does have a passion for proper body alignment, as totally weird as that is! Use a booster blanket if you have to but protect your back and joints with good body alignment in the car or at a desk. At least that is what the man says. I guess I am a bit of a sloucher. Doc definitely knows best.

  3. Huh, I never would have thought to change steering wheel height. I’ll have to fix my car up-living in LA these things are important!

    • You will find it will make a huge difference in comfort as well as preserve your back and joint integrity for years to come. Have a good commute!

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