Spine Posture and Discomfort During Prolonged Simulated Driving With Self-Selected Lumbar Support Prominence

Hum Factors. 2015 Sep;57(6):976-87. doi: 10.1177/0018720815584866. Epub 2015 May 7.


Objective: We examined magnitude preference, subjective discomfort, and spine posture during prolonged simulated driving with a self-selected amount of lumbar support.

Background: The general use of lumbar supports has been associated with decreased reports of low-back pain during driving exposures; however, minimal data exist regarding occupant magnitude preference.

Method: Participants chose between five discrete levels of lumbar support (0-4 cm). Time-varying postural and discomfort responses were then monitored throughout 2 hr of simulated driving.

Results: There were no significant effects of gender or time on posture. Women preferred larger amounts of support than men (3.25 cm ± 0.71 and 2.56 cm ± 0.88, respectively, p = .048). All participants exhibited significant increases (p = .003) in pelvic discomfort throughout the 2-hr trial regardless of the level of support chosen. Discomfort related to various aspects of the lumbar support increased significantly over time. Retrospectively, no participants desired a setting beyond 4 cm, and the majority of respondents indicate had they been able to change their initial selection, they would choose a setting between 2 and 3 cm.

Conclusion: The results suggest that occupants would prefer increasing the excursion capability of automobile lumbar supports beyond 2 cm.

Application: Excursion capability and adjustability of automobile lumbar supports are important features to better meet end-user preference and to reducing lumbar flexion in sitting.

Keywords: biomechanics; gender; interventions; physical ergonomics; spine; vehicle design.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Automobile Driving*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Equipment Design
  • Ergonomics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / prevention & control*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae*
  • Male
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult