Drivers, Beware of Bucket Seat Syndrome
Drivers, Beware of Bucket Seat Syndrome

Drivers, Beware of Bucket Seat Syndrome

Drivers, Beware of Bucket Seat Syndrome
By Pamela Adams D.C.

If you have low back pain that never seems to resolve
completely, no matter what you do for it; if you have neck and
shoulder pain that comes and goes, you may have Bucket Seat
Syndrome. More people are hurt by their car seats than they are
by not wearing seat belts. You may go years without an auto
accident, but you spend every day sitting in a seat that, down the
road, is guaranteed to cause you pain.
When car makers set about making the bucket seat they
must have taken their idea of the average driver (male, 511",
170 lbs., who slouches badly) and designed a seat around
him. Ever afterward, weve all been forced into a position that
only he finds comfortable.
Todays car seats, particularly buckets, position your knees
higher than your hips. This throws all your upper body weight
back onto your gluteus maximus and piriformis muscles
through which--and this is the important part--the Sciatic nerve
runs. Sit on that nerve often enough and long enough, and add a
fat wallet in your back pocket, and you will probably end up with
shooting pains down one or both legs.
Human beings were designed to sit on their pelvic bones,
or ischium, those hard bones you sometimes feel when you
first sit down on a hard chair. Sitting on those bones
automatically gives us a natural arch in the small of our backs.
When we sit this way, the sciatic nerve, sacroilliac joints,
lumbar vertebrae and hips are unencumbered and unstressed.
In order to take the pressure off your sciatic nerve, you must
drive with your thighs parallel to the floor of the car, your hips at
the same level as your knees. If you can adjust your seat to be
flat, great. If not, fold a towel, use a small cushion, or buy a foam
wedge to place in the dip of the seat.
Sitting erect in a bucket seat, even with a wedge cushion, is
not easy. Youll need lumbar or low back support, too, to keep
from leaning back and causing neck and shoulder pain. Once
youve positioned yourself as if you were on horseback, slip a
small rounded cushion or rolled up towel behind the small of
your back.You dont need to lean back. Your lower body will
support your upper back and head. Now relax your shoulders
and place your hands on the wheel as if you were holding the
reins. You may need to bring your seat closer to the steering
At first, this new way of driving will feel awkward at best and
uncomfortable at worst. Persist. Soon you will find that chronic
low back pain, stiff neck and shoulder pain will get better and
Copyright (c) 2003 Pamela Adams D.C.
Holistic health coach and ergonomics expert Dr. Pamela Adams
is author of "Dr. Adams Painless Guides; How to do Anything
and Everything Without Hurting Yourself." Get the books and your
free biweekly Self Health Newsletter at