By Lori Straus
When I was a kid, my grandmother would put this bright-pink-almost-red cushion on the passenger seat for me so I’d sit high enough for the visor to shield my eyes from the sun. (This was back when children could sit in the front passenger seat.) Rides with this cushion under me were much more comfortable. Drivers have been adding accessories to their seat to increase their own comfort for a long time. I’ll cover what a few of those accessories are and also explain some safety points to keep in mind when buying them.
Seat cushions are car seat accessories designed to make the foundation of your spine more comfortable. You’ll find them in various thicknesses and made of different materials (e.g., gel, memory foam, regular foam, etc.). They may have a space at the back for your tailbone so it isn’t pressing against something while you sit. There’s even a seat cushion for pregnant women.
You’ll find lots of reviews online, so take some time to research what you think will help. Be mindful of any measurements and weight limitations.
You likely often see these car seat accessories at the office, but you can also buy them for your vehicle. They’re designed to help your spine remain in its healthy, s-shaped position. This will help keep your shoulders back and your head atop your spine instead of allowing everything to slouch forward.
Steering Wheel Cover
Whether you want to keep your leather-covered steering wheel from baking your hands in the summer and freezing them in the winter, or you’d like something filled with memory foam that will encourage proper grip, a steering wheel cover can help make your drives more comfortable.
Try a Seat Adjustment First
Sometimes simply adjusting your seat and steering wheel are enough to increase your comfort. The Canadian Chiropractic Association recommends the following:
- Relax overall. Driving while tense can increase neck, shoulder, and back pain.
- Loosen your grip. A tight grip on your steering wheel can decrease circulation and increase the tension in your muscles.
- Sit up straight but slightly back. The CCA recommends angling the seat at 100-110˚. Oh—and don’t lean to the side to hang an arm out the window.
- Adjust your seat so your knees are slightly lower than your hips.
- Adjust your steering wheel so that it’s 25-30 cm from your breastbone and you can hold it with your elbows bent at your sides.
If you’re eying accessories for long commutes or family road trips, also book in time to get out and walk around. As you likely know, sitting for long periods of time is dangerous to our health—our bodies were meant to move—and driving contributes to this.
Car Seat Accessories and Your Seat Belt
Whatever accessories you add to your driver’s seat to make driving more comfortable for you, remember that your seat belt must still extend from above your shoulder, across your chest, and across your pelvis. If any of the accessories that you buy change the safe positioning of your seat belt, find another solution. There’s no point in driving comfortably, only to be seriously injured in a crash.
When searching for the right accessories to take the strain of driving off your body, read labels, research reviews, and ask friends and acquaintances for recommendations. You’ll find a large range of products out there, available at almost every price point. Take your time to find the ones suited for your car and body.