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Conquer Your Commute

Conquer Your Commute

Posted on March 25, 2014



By Stephanie Penny, PT, DPT, OCS

Cook County, has among the highest number of commuters coming from another county in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2013 estimates. Over 505,593 enter Cook County and 301,182 residents leave the county for work.

In 2011, the average one-way commute to work for people living in Cook County was 31.9 minutes. The average commute nationally was 25.5 minutes.  That’s about an hour a day getting to and from work, or about 260 hours a year spent commuting. You know that commuting can be a huge pain in the neck—but what can you do to keep your body from nagging aches and pains?   Read on to see a breakdown of common commuting pitfalls during and tips on conquering your commute.

1. Car seat angle:   The car seat angle should be upright or slightly reclining position with your back fully against the seat.  Your knees should not be any higher than your hips to ensure your low back is not placed in a rounded.  Adjust the lumbar support to fit the curve of your lower back. There is a common tendency to lean left or right while sitting which can contribute to compression on one side of the spine- make a conscious effort to keep weight equally distributed left to right.

2. Seat distance from the pedals: your knees should be slightly flexed in a relaxed position.

3. Hand placement: Maintain a slight bend in your arms.  Avoid holding the wheel with one hand which may result in twisting your body.

4. Head rest:  Your headrest should be level with the top your head or at least no lower than eye level.

5. How to manage a bucket seat: If your car seat is a “bucket seat,” it may make it difficult to obtain the recommended posture.  A bucket seat commonly places the knees higher than hips, resulting in excessive hip flexion, and more tension on the spine.  One strategy to combat this is a seat wedge, which is available at many retailers, including Relax the Back.

Good luck with your commute and know that we are here to support you along the way!  Although we cannot remove the thousands of pot holes on Chicago streets, your therapist can provide a car assessment and provide specific recommendations for you.