Proper Driving Posture in the RV

Have you ever heard of a “bike fit?” Bike fits are commonly done with road cyclists… James and I have both had them.  An expert will spend hours with you adjusting your bike, measuring you in weird ways, and doing all sorts of math…all to ensure you have perfect riding form. Bicyclists tend to spend hours in the saddle, and so bike fits can save riders from things like hand numbness, back pain, poor circulation, etc. It’s also supposed to give competitive cyclists an edge in races, which is why people fork over hundreds of dollars without batting an eye for bike fits. Competitive bikers LOOOOVE to spend money on “faster”.

I’ve been thinking recently, as much driving as we’ve been doing lately, that someone should offer “RV fits” in the same way. Not because we want to go faster in the RV obviously, but for the other reason. We RVers drive for hours on end, and without proper posture and seat adjustment, we’re just as vulnerable to injuries and ailments as those bikers are.  Which brings me to this:

Driving Posture

It’s not quite the same as paying someone $800 to put you in a wind tunnel and blow air over you while they move your seat 2 millimeters (ahem… James…), but hopefully this picture can give you a little guidance on what healthy driving posture looks like. Below is a list of The Fit RVs recommendations on proper driving posture.

How To Adjust Your Seat For Long Drives

  • Recline the back rest to an angle of 100-110 degrees. This will decrease the pressure on your spine, and improve circulation through the hips.
  • Adjust the lumbar support so you feel even pressure all along your back. You shouldn’t feel more pressure on your upper back, for example. A lumbar cushion can be added when that happens.
  • Align the bottom seat cushion so your hips and knees are in line. Again, you should feel even pressure all along the backs of your legs. Avoid the “bucket seat” effect…when your seat tilts so that your hips are down low and your knees up high. This will affect your circulation.
  • Make sure your knees are bent around 120 degrees when the pedals are fully depressed. Any less than that will decrease the circulation in your legs.
  • Move the seat forward enough so that you can keep your heels down when you depress either pedal.
  • Bring the steering wheel down and toward you to lessen the strain on your shoulders, neck, and upper back.
  • Forget 10 and 2! Instead, hold the steering wheel at 9 and 3 (or even lower). You’ll immediately notice your shoulders relaxing.
  • Move the seat closer if you can’t grip the topmost portion of the wheel without locking the elbow or taking your shoulders off the back rest. Now that you’ve done this test, get your hands back to 9 and 3.
  • Other than while turning, don’t hold the very top of the wheel with your one hand or any other grip that would have you reaching across your body. This is hard on your shoulders and will even throw your spine out of whack.
  • Try to keep your wrists fairly neutral (straight) when driving. Bending them for long periods causes strain in the joint.
  • Adjust the headrest so it’s just above your eyelids, and as close to the head as possible (2-3cm) and USE IT! It gives your neck a break from holding up that big brain of yours when you use the head rest.
  • Always remove your wallet from your back pocket before driving. Sitting on a wallet can cause the pelvis to twist which places even more stress on the back.

So there ya go. The very first “RV fit,” to keep us all more comfy and healthy in the driver’s seat. That’ll be $300 please! Oh, just kidding. A nice comment below would be payment enough.

Stay healthy on the road, gang!




Stefany Adinaro is an RVing fitness pro and is the self-proclaimed “better half” of the Fit RV website. While she loves her RV adventures, her favorite adventure is being “Mugga” to grandbabies Amelia and Eli. When she's not on the road, you can find her training clients in Salt Lake City, Utah.

    11 thoughts on “Proper Driving Posture in the RV

    1. Mike neundorfer

      Hi James and Stefany. Great posture tips, thanks. James, no need to be embarrassed by your bike fit focus. Marcia and I finally sprung for a couple of nice carbon bikes. The fit is great for both of us (the shop had a good, well trained fit expert). We are riding several hours every day on our annual week on Lake Erie in a crooked floor 150 year old rental house overlooking the lake. Good fit is a joy and bad fit is a constant pain. We have been tweaking our demo motor home seats and finally have the fit and adjustability to follow your recommendations. We still think of you every time Marcia says it is time to take a stretch or hike stop. We try to follow your recommendation of every couple of hours. These stops add to the joy of travel in many ways. Thanks.

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Hi Mike! Wow, I’m so excited that you’ve amped up your biking…don’t you love how easy the carbon fiber frames are to load on the bike rack?! Tell Marcia I’m so proud of you both! Also, great job for taking the time to do an “RV fit” (lol) on the Advanced RV seats. I’ve always been so proud of Advanced RV in the healthy lifestyle arena…and it starts at the top with you two modeling what that looks like. Keep those hike/stretch stops coming! Tell your ARV gang “hi” from us! xoxoxo

    2. Willard

      Now you have me thinking about my posture is sitting here at the computer. I think eventually proper posture becomes automatic if we practice it enough, especially in places where we tend to spend extended time periods. Stef this is a great reminder.
      One hint a fitness instructor at Duke gave me was to adjust the inside rear view mirror so that your head had to be held high to use. This constantly reminds me not to slouch.
      I also have been told sitting and gripping the steering wheel tightly increases blood pressure.
      You guys are great, Thanks.

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Love that rear view mirror tip, Willard! I’m going to try it next time I’m behind the wheel. Thanks so much for sharing it!!!

    3. Daniel

      Nice and well documented explenation!
      As a retrired Physical Therapist, I could not done better. The right posture in many situations is sooooo important. And many chronic complaints, even non-reversable insuries and deseases, started for some people in their young years …. Prevention and awareness is the key to these problems, we “modern people” with our, spending hours and hours in one posture, lifes….. There starts the problem. Keep in motion, and do some excersises, when taking those necessary breaks. Take a walk, etc …
      You are doing a great job, combining all those interesting RV-Facts with Fit-Facts :-))

    4. Doug

      Great article Stefany. This should help many people if they read and implement. I know the importance of this firsthand. I, and my ortho surgeon, thought I had a torn rotator cuff. Xrays, MRI, and some painful manual examination later proved I did not have a tear. It was bursitis. Some rehab and habit changing did the trick. I suffered from hunched shoulder posture. The bursitis became so painful that I could not hold the steering wheel for very long with the affected arm. Now I’m aware of my sitting posture even when sitting in bleachers at events. Keep those shoulders low and pressed back.

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Doug, you bring up a great point…good posture shouldn’t only be implemented when driving! And yes, avoiding “hunching” is very important when walking, sitting, standing, whatever. The more frequently you hunch, the more your body adjusts to it; your spine locks in that position, your ligaments tighten to it, etc. Great tip, Doug, thanks for mentioning it!

    5. Preston Sturkie

      Your suggestions have really helped . I have never had anyone explain it and what you said make sense. Usually about an hour into a trip I start twitching never finding anything comfortable just different only to last another hour.
      I recently purchases a new car with a 10 way power seat. I ended up in a position just like you said. I ended up sitting in a deep hole reaching for the wheel. I felt like I was sitting like some of those “gangster” looking folks.
      Now I have taken my time and applied all of your suggestions and it is a different world.
      Thank you

      1. Stefany - Post author

        We’re so glad to hear this. It’s definitely something we all easily take for granted, but healthy posture is SO important when driving!

    6. David Lee

      I once had a bike fit from the Boulder Sports Medicine Clinic. I wish I could say that Andy Pruitt himself did it, but I’d be lying. Still, I got a great fit from them, and I’ll try to incorporate the suggestions you have into my seat adjustments. One thing I’ve learned over the years, though, is that just because you might have an expensive car,it doesn’t mean you’ll have great posture in it. I had a 2001 BMW 330i that was the most uncomfortable car over a long drive that I’ve ever owned, and it didn’t matter how you adjusted the seat. Hopefully, my RAM 3500 will be much better. Thanks for the post

      1. James

        When Stef approached me with her idea for the post – and the analogy to bike fits – I was a little embarrassed that I spend so much time driving, but hadn’t given much of a thought to driving position.
        Hope some of the tips help!


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