By Olivia Orman
As meeting and event planners, we often drive far distances to arrive at a conference or convention. In some cases, we spend more time in the car than we do at the outing itself! This illustrates why it is so important that we correct our posture as we commute from venue to venue. Slouching, or stressing the natural curvature of the spine, has become a repeated tendency for many individuals, rather than lengthening our spinal vertebrates by sitting up tall. As you drive to your next meeting or event, or to the office for the matter, I encourage you to try some of these techniques, bringing poise and confidence back into your posture and protecting your long-term health.
Adjust the Driver’s Seat
This idea sounds like a given, but it is critical to take this primary action for the well-being of your back. Adjust the driver’s seat so the back cushion is completely perpendicular to the seat cushion. In other words, the seat must make a 90-degree angle. This is probably the most straightforward way to accomplish refined posture, but the back cushion for some cars, like mine, only raises to about 75 or 80 degrees. Thus, we must get a little more creative.
Adjust All Your Mirrors
An effective solution I came up with a few months ago is to shift all the car mirrors. To do this in a way that will positively influence your posture, sit up with a straight back in a way that feels comfortable for you, and adjust all the car mirrors so everything is visible behind you at all times. Your only option now is to keep your spine lengthened as you drive. This is a challenging modification in the beginning, and it is important that you continue to remind yourself to make full contact with your glutes on the seat to maintain this elongated posture in an easeful way.
Anteriorly Tilt Your Pelvis with a Blanket
If you are experiencing trouble with either or both options above but still want to focus on correcting your posture, fold a blanket so it is three inches in height; then place it below the back edge of your glutes. Providing an anterior, or forward, tilt to your pelvis will naturally allow your spine to lengthen, and it may take some of the tension and strain out of your lower back. Rather than thinking of this blanket as a “booster seat”, consider it a valuable resource that will slowly rectify all the over-exerted flexion from many years of driving. With enough frequent utilization, you may be able to maintain a tall back without the blanket in a couple of months.
Eliminate All the Distractions
To devote more of your attention to your posture, it is extremely necessary to put away and turn off all the distractions that will make you hunch over and forget this goal. Consider turning your phone on silent before embarking on your long commute and keep it in a place where you are least likely to reach for it and check it. Calling and texting on the road is dangerous and – in most states – illegal. Hopefully, this gives you less incentive to take part in this distraction. Turning off the radio and other sources of music can also help you focus on your posture. When you are left with your thoughts and the traffic, you have to prioritize those two objectives.
A Conscious Effort
Fixing your posture after years of over-exaggerated spinal flexion is a challenging task at hand, but it is very possible to reverse this tendency with persistent attention and constant action. When you catch yourself leaning too far back or hunching over the steering wheel, notice whether you are doing it out of habit, or it is happening every so often. Then, sit up straight. This is a large correction to make, and it will take time before sitting tall in the car becomes a subconscious habit. Avoid being overly harsh on yourself and just keep trying.
Perfecting your posture will go a long way. In addition to sparing your back unnecessary stress when traveling from place to place, you will appear more assertive and professional as you approach and converse with clients, and they may even consider you to be more authoritative and credible. It can be challenging to make modifications to longtime habits, but today is the day to start prioritizing your somatic driving tendencies. Your back will thank you on your next several long commutes.
Olivia Orman is a contributing writer from St. Louis.