Thursday, September 21, 2023


Do you lean forward while driving? That has got to stop!

Are you like me and catch yourself leaning into the steering wheel while driving? That is not a good thing! I talked to my physical therapist about it and he confirmed I was actually harming my body.

“The biggest thing I would say when sitting or driving is to check your posture,” said Brandon Aubry, a clinic director for ATI Physical Therapy in my hometown of Joliet, IL. “Keep your shoulders back. Keep your lumbar position upright. Do not lean forward; it puts a lot of stress on the joints and muscles of your spine. It can also cause our shoulders to round and can cause impingement on the muscles of our shoulders.”

I met Brandon when I underwent physical therapy this spring for painful tendonitis in my rotator cuff—and a month later I was cured and good to go!

While I now have my own daily morning routine, my PT gave me four stretches that will help me during driving days. He also suggested a lumbar support (which I have) and maybe even straps to keep my shoulders back. A “posture correction support strap” sells on Amazon for roughly $20.

One exercise you can do at a stoplight is to squeeze your shoulder blades together for 10 seconds. That’s a good one to do intermittently.

Seated hamstring stretch. Begin sitting upright with one leg straight forward and your heel resting on the ground. Bend your trunk forward, hinging at your hips until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Hold the position for 20 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

Each time you stop for gas or a potty break, spend 3 to 4 minutes doing the following:

  1. Hamstring stretches (above), because these muscles can shorten.
  2. Side lunges are good, as well, to stretch the inner thigh muscles.
  3. Belly tucks. In a seated position, tuck your belly button toward your spine for five seconds, then release.

Brandon has eight years on the job and a clinical doctorate in physical therapy. He says ATI Physical Therapy is always happy to perform a 15- to 20-minute free screening, and it has 900 locations throughout the United States.

I am on the road for 10 months a year, so it’s hard to slow down for something like physical therapy. Now I wish I had stopped by an ATI location or something similar as I was in pain for four months last winter-spring. It prevented me from kayaking. I just kept expecting it to get better if I babied it. Boy, was I wrong!



Jan Steele
Jan Steele
Former newspaper editor Jan Steele started her career in third grade as a school correspondent for her local newspaper and has been writing for publication ever since, including a 30-year-stint at the Herald-News in Joliet, IL. She decided in fourth grade she wanted to hit the road as soon as she could—and retired eight years ago to RV full-time.


  1. Thank you, Jan! I have to remember to sit back into the seat when I am driving. I, too, don’t sit back as much as I can/should. As Tommy noted, leaning forward makes it easier to see, 😉 or so my posture suggests.

  2. Here’s just another little tip on lower back and cheek pain! Remove everything from your back pocket(s) – especially a wallet. If it isn’t bothering you now – it will in the future and then it will be too late to fix easily! (Guess how I found this out!)

  3. When I was still truckin’ I would always lean forward so I could see better in blinding snow storms. “Everyone knows” you can see better that way. 🙂

  4. When I first began driving, I would find my shoulders tensing up, so I would force them down. That turned into a habit which allows me to drive fairly long distances comfortably.

  5. I sometimes catch myself doing exactly this – leaning forward. I have mostly fixed this with two things – move the whole seat closer to the wheel and bring the seat back closer (not at, but closer) to vertical. If I realize I am not touching the seat back, I am slouching and fix the problem.

  6. I had back pain for quite a while when driving. Not so much in my shoulders, but lower back. That’s when I realized I was constantly reaching and leaning forward. I adjusted the back of the seat to a more vertical position. At first it seemed uncomfortable, but it did make a big difference. No more reclining while driving for me.


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