We previously discussed policing your posture, highlighting how important monitoring your posture during activities of daily living (ADL) can be, and how one can impact the other. Overuse injuries can happen on or off the field, in or out of the fitness floor, and frequently for the average fitness client, just going about their day-to-day life. Many of us are stuck in a car often hours a day getting to and from work and running errands. Consider how the client with a daily commute might be affected by this “activity.”
When you drive a car or sit too long, there’s a big chance of developing postural distortions or compensatory body patterning, especially if the individual slouches or the vehicle seating is not ideal for the driver/passenger’s body.
I’ve teamed up with Dr. Ben Zorensky, a Naturopathic Physician and Certified Yoga Instructor to explain what happens to the hip flexors and lumbar spine when we sit too long or with poor posture when driving a car:
Like Dr. Ben said, sitting too long while slouching can put pressure on the lumbar spine, tightening its supporting and stabilizing musculature, and shortening the hip flexor muscles. But the effects don’t stop there. Everything in the body is connected! I love to say that the ankle bone is connected to the jaw bone—eventually!
In essence, there’s a cascading effect of poor sitting posture while driving a car down to the ankles, which Dr. Ben talks about too, when it comes to dorsiflexion and plantar flexion of the foot, even tibial internal rotation which is associated with overpronation (think about pivoting your foot from the gas to the brake pedal) Some may also tend towards tibial external rotation if that’s the tendency, exacerbating oversupination. Moving up the body, poor sitting posture impacts the shoulder and neck also.
I also like to call this becoming a “human cashew”.
Don’t be a cashew! Better yet, DON’T BECOME A CASHEW!
They’re tasty, but here’s a Yoga exercise that can help correct or adjust the musculature from poor sitting posture while driving:
The posture focuses on lengthening the pelvic and lumbar region, creating hip extension, and lumbar spine extension. It also puts the knee into extension and the foot into plantarflexion. mimicking ideal gait. While the shoulders are in end-range flexion in this demo, they work more as a lever to lengthen the spine than as a direct corrective measure in this Yoga exercise.
By encouraging the proper movement patterns this way, posture while driving can be more easily improved with intention. Depending on the degree of postural dysfunction, additional corrective work for the upper body may be necessary.
I’ll be talking more about that in future blogs as well as focusing on additional ADL’s that can benefit from corrective exercises, like how we move while shopping at a grocery store.
For example, when we try to go pick something up from the bottom shelf, do we bend over to get it, or do we squat down and reach for it ergonomically? When we reach behind us (especially in a car) to grab a purse or package from the back seat, do we contort our spines to become human pretzels, or do we shift our bodies mindfully to prevent tweaking something?
How about even how we get into and out of a car? Folks with knee discomfort or back issues can really struggle with these kinds of everyday tasks. Stay tuned for more on how proper posture and movement patterns can help minimize aches and pains, overuse injuries, and maximize the time in sport and on the fitness floor!