A lot of people start to suffer from lower back pain as they get older, and for some of us driving for hours at a time can exacerbate the problem considerably.
While car manufacturers understand this, investing millions of pounds into designing safer and more supportive car seats, the reality is that we, not they, are generally the problem because we slouch and adopt a driving position that no car seat could ever hope to accommodate.
This has led me to search for aftermarket lumber supports, with varying degrees of success.
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A friend in the industry then pointed me towards SHOFT, a company that is messianic in its quest to enlighten us that if poor posture is the cause, propping up our lower backs with improvised supports isn’t the solution.
SHOFT argues that the lap strap of our seat belts should support the pelvis firmly, a stance supported by RoSPA.
Most of us do this instinctively when we first settle into our cars, pushing our backs firmly into the seat of the car and clinching the seatbelt up firmly. However, inertia reel seat belts are designed to enable the user to move freely, which loosens the belt over time as we shuffle about and start to slouch. As a result the lap belt stops holding us in place via our pelvis. This causes two problems.
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The first is that a misplaced lap belt could be a critical issue in an accident; if the seat belt rides up from your pelvis and onto your stomach then the force of the impact will be taken on your soft, squishy internal organs rather than on the immensely strong pelvic bones.
The second is that this minute slippage means that your body isn’t being supported as effectively as it was when you first set out.
As we move about too many of us start to adopt a slouch, a position that prevents the car seat from providing effect support no matter how well engineered.
I’ve also found that when I slouch in this way my body subconsciously counteracts the movements of the car by tensing the muscles in my back to try and maintain my posture. I also grip the steering wheel more tightly than I should when cornering to hold myself in place.
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A feeling of security
The SHOFT clip is easy to fit and use and while it does feel a bit more restrictive at first (although the upper body is still free to move, meaning that actions like adjusting the heater or stereo are unaffected) this is more than compensated for by the feeling of security it imparts. I found that it did keep me sitting in a better position for longer, easing my back pain considerably.
As a side effect, I found that I felt more connected to the car too, which helped improve my fine motor control making my driving smoother because I wasn’t hanging on to the steering wheel for support.
SHOFT clips are available in either black or orange and cost £24.99 including p&p.
For more tips and useful information, browse our motoring articles.