Driving = Risk factor for Low Back Pain

Occupational Medicine, Vol. 48, No. 3., pp. 153-160, 1998, “Musculoskeletal Problems and Driving in Police Officers,” written by D. E. Gyi and J. M. Porter, Vehicle Ergonomics Group, Department of Design and Technology, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, United Kingdom:

In the above-mentioned study, the Occupational Health Department of a rural police force in the United Kingdom had concerns with relation to driving and its link to musculoskeletal disorders.

“There are now an increasing number of researchers whose work implicates prolonged exposure to car driving as a risk factor for low back pain.  However, such epidemiological studies examining the relationship between car driving and back pain or other musculoskeletal troubles are difficult to conduct.  Driving as a task involves prolonged sitting, a fixed posture, and vibration, any of which could directly lead to musculoskeletal trouble.  It is likely that symptoms arise from multiple relationships and influences, (Rey, P., 1979).”

“These police drivers are also deemed to be at particular risk because of the following:

  • They are generally tall males and wear bulky clothing such that seat adjustment may be insufficient to obtain a good posture.
  • They drive fleet cars where the seat and suspension are exposed to excessive wear and tear.
  • They often have to drive in rapid response situations such that they are exposed to fast acceleration and deceleration.
  • Driving is often followed by strenuous physical activity such as lifting and running.
  • They spend most of their eight-hour shift driving or sitting in their vehicle.
  • They often have to take back-seat passengers, such that tall males are unable to take advantage of any seat adjustments that do exist.”

“In a survey of 2,000 U.S. police officers, the number and types of health disorders reported b these officers over a 6-month period were similar to those found in the general public over a 12 month period, (Hurrel, J., 1984).”

The results of the above-mentioned study agree with the findings of other studies that indicate driving a car is a risk factor for the development of low back pain.

Author: Melanie Loomos

I was a court reporter for 10 years and spent most of my time in very uncomfortable chairs. As a result, I spent years researching seating and submitted two patent applications: "The Carpal Tunnel Chair,” and "The Pillow with Cantilever Supports," which was granted and became The Buttpillow®. Subsequently, The Buttpillow® was improved upon as it was determined different embodiments were needed for proper ergonomic positioning depending on the individual sitter. The Patented "Ergonomic Seating Cushion,” was was granted by the USPTO; and was later amended to include an embodiment specifically to help women maintain the natural curve of their lumbar spine during the second and third trimester of pregnancy. An extreme lumbar curve that restricts blood flow to the fetus is the only external risk factor for low birth weight babies. Subsequently, in 2003, I invented Ergosoft™ break reminder software based on OSHAs Ergonomic Standard so people can identify and minimize ergonomic risk factors for the development of sitting-related pain, eye strain, DVT and carpal tunnel syndrome.

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