Saturday, November 10, 2007

The hidden danger of driving - sitting badly at the wheel

More on driving and musculoskeletal disorders ...

"Thousands of drivers are suffering unnecessary injuries every day, but not as the result of drink-driving, speeding or other accidents.

Sitting in cars for long periods can cause long-term damage to the neck, back, arms, shoulders and knees, experts say.

At least half of high-mileage business drivers suffer from pains in their lower back from sitting — or slouching — according to reseachers at Loughborough University, who are now setting guidelines to prevent driving-related strains and injuries.

“Driving long distances is one of the worst things you can do to your body,” said Brian McIlwraith, an osteopath who specialises in car ergonomics. “There’s a tendency for you to be forced into a slumped position, so your back is bent, putting pressure on the hips, lower back and intervertebral discs.” Other potential dangers include stretching to reach steering wheels or pedals, and the way you pull yourself out of your seat, he added.

Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common form of work-related ill-health in Britain, with an annual cost of more than £200 million — and employees who drive more than 20 hours a week are at particular risk.

Those who drive for more than four hours a day or 25,000 miles a year are six times more likely to take sick leave for a back injury than those who drive less. A recent study suggested that a fifth of men regularly experience muscle and joint pain or discomfort due to driving, which makes motoring, after DIY home improvements, the second- highest cause of aches and pains.

According to recent figures, 70 per cent of people drive to work, taking an average time of 26.3 minutes. Three per cent commute for more than 90 minutes, while 11 per cent spend more than an hour behind the wheel. The average journey time has increased by three minutes over the past decade, while high property prices are leading workers to commute long distances, rather than move home, experts said."    (Continued via Times Online)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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