Don’t Tell Me What to Do

Let me start by saying that I am not an Ergonomic specialist, nor do I play one on Facebook or TikTok, but I have been shown proper sitting posture and can attest that they work. So, take this for what it is, my real-life, experience-filled opinion. I will preface all of this by telling you I have zero back, neck, or shoulder pain and I can attribute this all to proper posture and seat usage while driving. So, let’s get into it, shall we?

Why Does It Matter?

There are several reasons to make sure we are seated properly and many benefits, so let’s talk about them:

  • It helps prevent fatigue. If your body isn’t taking a beating, you’ll feel better.
  • It reduces the risk of musculoskeletal issues. Achy muscles and joints suck
  • It helps with concentration. If you are comfortable, you can pay better attention to the road.
  • It helps ensure better control over the vehicle. 
  • It helps with overall health.

What If I Don’t Sit Properly?

Besides the opposite of everything listed above, there are a few other negatives:

  • Increased Stress - poor ergonomics can elevate stress levels, both mentally and physically during long drives
  • Circulation Problems - incorrect seat adjustments can lead to numbness or tingling in arms and legs. It can also lead to potentially deadly blood clots. Speaking from experience, blood clots are painful, and I highly advise against having one. 
  • Risk of Accidents - discomfort and distraction caused by improper seat adjustments can reduce our ability to effectively respond to situations that may occur on the road. 

So How Should I “Sit on It”?

Great question!! I’m so glad you asked! Please keep this in mind though, what may feel comfortable for a few minutes in the seat, may not be good for you overall. The reverse also applies though. While it may feel uncomfortable at first, and take some getting used to, your body will thank you in the long run.

  • Make sure to adjust your seat to support your lower back. Most seats come with air adjustments in the seat back. Use these to help with this support.
  • Position the steering wheel so your arms are slightly bent, and you aren’t overreaching for the steering wheel. If your shoulders aren’t against the back of the seat, you are adding pressure to your shoulder and neck.
  • Adjust your seat so your feet reach the pedals comfortably with a slight bend in your knees. Hips should be slightly lower than your knees.
  • Set the steering wheel so it is level with your chest, also keeping your back against the seat. This provides proper lumbar support.
  • Don’t use armrests!! This is a big one, but using armrests does not allow your shoulders to rest properly. Don’t believe me, try this. Sit with your arms in your lap and take notice of your shoulder position, especially around your neck. Now, put your armrest down and check out the position of your shoulder. While it may only be slightly different, this difference over the course of a full day of driving can cause lower neck and shoulder discomfort. It may feel strange at first, but you’ll get used to it, trust me.

The Benefits of Air Ride Seats

Some drivers will tell you they ride with the seat all the way on the floor. I’ve heard them say “The Truck has Air ride, so that’s good enough!” The seat is designed to absorb the vibrations caused by the truck running down the road, even with airbags absorbing so much. 

One thing many drivers do is to lock down the seat, so it doesn’t rock back and forth, and I get that. It takes getting used to. The truck is creating that movement though, so if you lock it down, where is that movement going? Your back muscles are absorbing that movement trying to keep you upright. That is just adding stress to your back. Let the seat do what it is designed to do…. absorb vibrations and shocks.

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Clark W Reed

Clark Reed of Roscoe, Illinois is an OTR company driver and trainer for Nussbaum Transportation based out of Hudson, Illinois. He has been driving since 2005 and has driven van, reefer, and tanker. He currently hauls dry van to all lower 48 states. Clark is passionate about MPGs and how driver habits influence them. The lifetime average of his 2018 Cascadia is 9.75 mpg, with eyes on 10. Clark, along with Henry Albert, was one of the seven drivers in 2017's "Run on Less" by NACFE, a road show, demonstrating what fuel efficiency can be obtained with existing technologies.

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