Team-BHP > Technical Stuff

View Poll Results: Do you experience discomfort in a low slung car?
Yes 110 49.11%
No 114 50.89%
Voters: 224. You may not vote on this poll

  Search this Thread
Old 8th September 2020, 14:52   #31
Distinguished - BHPian
PrasannaDhana's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: TRICHY - TN
Posts: 2,978
Thanked: 19,058 Times
Re: Back pain & joint pain: Is a low slung car responsible?

I wouldn't blame the car.

I am 6'2, drive a ciaz a lot (100 km daily) and I am totally fine with it. Mind you, my back has had its own share of issues, with multpile rib fractures last year and compressed disc. Fortunately I have recovered and I don't find any discomfort at all.

On the contrary, I don't like driving my Storme (which sits a lot taller than most cars) , due to being accustomed to a low slung sedan. Taller seating "feels" abnormal.

I have driven the city, Ciaz and rapid extensively, and would anyday pick the low slung cars over MPVs or SUVs. Ciaz and city in particular have very comfortable seats. I guess the issue is with not setting up proper seating position as per the individual.

Last edited by PrasannaDhana : 8th September 2020 at 14:58.
PrasannaDhana is online now   (1) Thanks
Old 8th September 2020, 15:12   #32
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Gurgaon
Posts: 633
Thanked: 2,012 Times
Re: Back pain & joint pain: Is a low slung car responsible?

Originally Posted by RoadMonkey View Post
There's a similar thread, I know, titled "Pain in left leg while driving. Is the AT responsible?" But it goes in a completely different direction. The discussion there revolves around the transmission, but coincidentally most of the complaints are from people who drive automatic low slung cars, where seating is not upright.

I drive a Baleno MT and I've been experiencing joint stiffness, slight pain at times in the knee, which all I've addressed after talking to multiple orthopedic surgeons and doctors. Cycling, stretching, omega-3 supplements have helped considerably. I have also started wearing a knee support for long drives and that's also helped ease things. But now, I've a new problem. Pain the lower back/tail bone.
I want to ask fellow BHPians if they've observed/experienced something similar or maybe the problem is really with excessive seating and I'm analysing it incorrectly? I have been contemplating getting an automatic to ease my discomfort, but maybe that's not necessary. Especially given the other thread. I should mention that I'm in mid-20s and it's definitely not age related. I've also tried multiple driving seat adjustments/setups, I usually set it to what's recommended as the ideal setup.
I drive a swift 2016 model MT petrol Yesterday I just came back from Jodhpur to GGN. It was almost 14 hours drive due to Jaipur flooding and truck queues in tolls. Took about 3 breaks, and for each I was unable to stand on my own legs. I have a knee problem for long and this time I used knee caps. It certainly supported me. But I have exactly all the problems you are facing, knee problem, lower back pain, extreme tail bone pain and swelling, lumber pain and hip bone joint pain. I guess maruti Swift, Boleno etc. Driver's seat ergonomics is not good. Some of my colleagues have same problem due to sitting positions of maruti low slung cars.
By the way, where did you consult for these problems in GGN? Once I visited Safdarjung sports injury center, and also consulted Max hospital senior consultants. They gave almost same medicines which are not very helpful for me. I am otherwise consuming SOS medicines like Hifenac or Brufen etc. Or injection shots.
RijuC is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 8th September 2020, 15:41   #33
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 175
Thanked: 352 Times
Re: Back pain & joint pain: Is a low slung car responsible?

Originally Posted by RoadMonkey View Post
I have been contemplating getting an automatic to ease my discomfort, but maybe that's not necessary.
Hi, I have experienced this in my Skoda Rapid AT in 2014. I sold the brand new car in 6 months time due to unbearable pain in the knees especially the right one though did not have any issue with my back. Over time I have observed that I get pain in the right knee whenever I drive an AT or MT with a hard A Pedal. This happened even during my one year ownership of Fiat Linea Diesel during 2014-15 which had a pretty hard A pedal and a long hard C pedal, but again no back issues.
I currently own the Mahindra Alturas G4 AT and 2008 Hyundai i10 AT. I experience discomfort in my left knee after driving the i10(though it is not very low slung) for more than 30-35 minutes or so in the city of Bangalore (in prior to lockdown traffic conditions). But this never happened with the Alturas. The Alturas A pedal is very soft, unlike the i10's.
So I guess soft A pedals are easy on the right knee especially in AT's since your right leg has to constantly shuttle between the A and B pedals.,can be hurtful in heavy city traffic conditions. Also the left leg gets bored in long drives and starts to feel uneasy since its not doing anything.
I also drove 2012 Ford Figo Diesel MT for about 6 months which I consider as low slung and has relatively soft A/B/C pedals, but did not experience any back or knee issues. I have extensively used it in city and highways. Between 2005 and 2014 I drove the first generation Santro and Swift Diesel and never had any issues with back or knee.
For my kind of posture I have always felt more comfortable in taller/upright seating position with soft pedals. I guess its a combination of such things which suits each individual according to his/her frame size and underlying physical conditions.

Last edited by Pkumarblore : 8th September 2020 at 16:02.
Pkumarblore is offline   (3) Thanks
Old 8th September 2020, 16:11   #34
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Delhi NCR
Posts: 100
Thanked: 265 Times
Re: Back pain & joint pain: Is a low slung car responsible?

Originally Posted by VRJ View Post
Dr: Exercise more, donít sit for long periods, even when you sit, always sit straight and on your butt. These days everyone is leaning and sitting on their lower backs. Thatíll lead to horrible consequences in the long run. Have an active lifestyle. Then he begins to rant how stupid millennials are for ten minutes.

Soon after this, we sold the car as I moved to Sydney to do my masters. I used to walk an average of 4-5km everyday there. It wasnít an exercise, but a necessity. Walking to the train station to go to university, walking to my part-time work place everyday (it was 1km away and there was no bus for such a short trip) or to get groceries. I used to work part-time as a cook at this burger joint, so I used to stand for 8-9 hours during my shift. I had a very active lifestyle and since I moved to Sydney, I never had any lower back pain. Rented out a Camry and drove to the 12 Apostles and never had any problem. Iím not sure how my back pain just vanished. I didnít take any medication. Maybe it was because of me walking a lot and not driving at all (I didnít own a car there). Maybe it was because of my very active lifestyle.
This might be considered OT since the discussion is about low slung cars. So, excuse me for that..

I would agree with your Doctor's advice and your experience in Australia proves that.

I sit in front of computer for 10-12 hours and day and have a poor posture. How much I try to maintain good posture, I tend to lean forward.

A good posture is very important.

Also, I would suggest to have an active life style that goes a long way in preventing these types of problems. Develop a routine that helps to maintain flexibility as well as muscle strength. Choose your routine based on your interest, Yoga, weight training, swimming, some sports, running

No medicine or supplements can beat this.We can start this at any stage of our life but earlier we start the better it is. This advice is coming from a mid-forties guy .

I drive Swift and Scorpio and the major problem I face is cramps in left foot during highway drive. This is due to keeping the left foot on clutch pedal and non-activity i.e. not changing gears for long distance. To overcome this there are two options:
  1. Keep the foot on the floor or dead pedal, if available
  2. If you are like me i.e. don't have a dead pedal or are not comfortable in keeping foot on floor then: Keep the fingers of your left foot moving while the foot is stationary.
This tip was shared by our instructor during NCC Days to avoid cramps while on long hours of sentry duties.
manchandap is offline   (2) Thanks
Old 8th September 2020, 16:14   #35
venbas's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: Chennai
Posts: 138
Thanked: 419 Times
Re: Back pain & joint pain: Is a low slung car responsible?

A good long ride car needs to have excellent thigh and lumbar support for tall riders. So the seat should either be tall/upright or you need to have good lumbar support in a low slung car. Of course it will help if you maintain an active lifestyle so that the pain will go away in an hour or overnight rest. For me the pain was there in the old Accent(2003 model) due to the low slung position. When I used to drive my 2011 Ritz thanks to the high rise seating position, did not get any pain on my back. However I used to get excruciating pain in my knee joints after a long drive. In my new Honda City VMT both vanished. The City had this excellent bucket seats that are just right. On top of this, it had the cruise control which I used to engage routinely(even if for 5- ). This used to give me time to relax my legs during the drive itself. Net result was that I arrived at my destination even after a 350+km drive fresh as a peach

Last edited by Chetan_Rao : 8th September 2020 at 16:39. Reason: Typos
venbas is offline  
Old 8th September 2020, 18:15   #36
anks_at's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: NZ + Delhi
Posts: 153
Thanked: 156 Times
Re: Back pain & joint pain: Is a low slung car responsible?

I drive a 911 & a SLK200 - pretty low slung, you would reckon. With my legs stretched out comfortably over the pedals & under thigh bolstering in the seats & proper lumbar adjustments & supporting neck rests, I have found both these cars to be more comfortable to drive for more than a 1000km in a day, than many other cars I have driven.
The seat width & padding in it, the exact angles of your leg, arms, steering wheel height & reach, neck restraints, tilt & other adjustments of the seats in the car are the real factors (in my opinion & experience), that make the car comfortable/uncomfortable.
A low slung car only makes ingress/egress more difficult but doesn't contribute to any pain if correctly adjusted - its the seat adjustments / lack of adjustment, that causes the pain.
Also, a car that allows just 3 adjustments in a seat - forward/backward, tilt, height - would definitely be more difficult to get right for some people than compared to cars that have the whole shebang of 18 way adjustable seats & what not. The more adjustable & featured a seat, with the right dimensions & padding, the more probable it is that you will find the exact sweet spot of adjustments that does not tire you at all or cause any pain at all.

Last edited by anks_at : 8th September 2020 at 18:24.
anks_at is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 8th September 2020, 18:47   #37
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: New Delhi
Posts: 281
Thanked: 642 Times
Re: Back pain & joint pain: Is a low slung car responsible?

I am in similar boat my friend. I get severe low back pain in my Ford Aspire with only 10 minutes of driving while I am perfectly fine in my Alto. I am also searching for a replacement for Alto and my PRIMARY consideration is seat comfort so that back pain does not arise. I have become so obsessive that all my attention while taking test drives is on back pain and I rarely look at engine, suspension or other key areas. I have tried all possible backrests and none of them prove helpful. But the humble Alto wins over it. The inferences I take out of my situation that might be helpful in your case are.

1. Rather than the car being low slung the discomfort is more related to seating position and the angle of back and legs. Positioning of A, B and C pedals with respect to your seating also plays a very important role. Nobody can tell you what would work for you so you need to find it yourself(like Ritz is proving to be ok in your case).
2. If your car has height adjustment then you have more chances of finding a favorable driving position. So this feature should be your no. 1 priority in any car you buy.
3. Cars boasting the best lumbar and seat comfort might not work for you at all. So don't finalize any model just based on reviews. A long drive is a MUST.
4. Avoid cars with rigid suspension. My Aspire just adds to it.
5. An AT would definitely help.
6. Do those basic back stretching exercises. These usually take a month to have perceptible benefits and need to be done diligently with minimum an hour devoted to it.
7. If possible get a more roomy car than Tiago. Dzire AMT can be given a look. I find its seats most supportive in that segment.
8. Aftermarket options to alter your seat padding is also a great idea suggested by GTO. It should make a difference as in my case it made the pain worse when I put padded seat covers. So it can also alleviate the pain if used properly.

Last edited by Maverick Avi : 8th September 2020 at 18:50.
Maverick Avi is online now  
Old 8th September 2020, 20:07   #38
Distinguished - BHPian
DicKy's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: TVPM
Posts: 3,891
Thanked: 12,274 Times
Re: Back pain & joint pain: Is a low slung car responsible?


If you are not old enough to have back pain. That is 50+ years of age. It is mostly because the sedentary lifestyle.

Ingress/egress difficulties maybe, but discomfort over the journey is just the low slung seating bringing out the underlying weakness/problems in the body.

That said I do believe that the vast majority of cars below the compact sedan segment have kind of a compromised set-up. Unless it is 90s go-kart like low position or something like that of the present Honda City, you sacrifice long distance comfort for ease of entry/exit.
Full size sedans, however low they are, seems to be the best ones for long journeys. For the driver that is.

At the other end, too high a seating position is also detrimental. Not sure about Scorpio, but a couple of BHPians have reported serious back pain/spine problems using the Safari.
Maybe that's why Japanese/American SUVs for all their size and bulk have the seats set at a lower position than our homegrown SUVs. Could be wrong, as I have no idea about Landrover/Range rover seating.

More than seat height, it is the way we adjust the seats that matter. Though for ingress/egress, especially elders, high set seats and higher H-points are the only solution.

Not to say our road conditions aggrevate problems further.

Weirdly for me, all back pain seems to disappear if I wear trackpants instead of belted pants and jeans for long journeys. Am obese

Last edited by DicKy : 8th September 2020 at 20:11.
DicKy is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 8th September 2020, 20:25   #39
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Kolkata/London
Posts: 164
Thanked: 94 Times
Re: Back pain & joint pain: Is a low slung car responsible?

We had a Zen VXi earlier not the Estilo one and I used to have lower back pains while driving it for long hours. One of the reasons why we moved to Wagon R which has easy ingress/egress and my back pain reduced significantly. That being said, I think the road conditions in India is also responsible for the back pain upto a certain extent. I had driven low slung cars like Mini Cooper, Merc A Class for hundreds of miles in Europe and UK but have faced any back pain due to excellent road conditions.
CountMe91 is offline  
Old 8th September 2020, 21:27   #40
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Here and there
Posts: 387
Thanked: 1,471 Times
Re: Back pain & joint pain: Is a low slung car responsible?

Hello, a small update and a little more context. I got my car in December '17 and my pain started happening around April '18 after I'd driven it around 10k Kms. That was during my student days, I would have a sitting time of maximum 3-4 hours per day, and that too not continuous. I was very active in sports, had a lifestyle that could be characterized as anything but sedantary. I have since attempted to get it diagnosed multiple times but none's been satisfactory, so I've done my own diagnosis based on my observations and input from multiple qualified doctors and a couple of friends in the medical field. This thread has also helped fine tune my observation and it indeed was supposed to be an exercise in the same.

To that end, I'd like to address a few things mentioned in this thread.

1) Anyone who's read BHP's guides on good driving practices (which I did before I started driving!) would never keep their foot on the clutch pedal itself.

2) I also researched extensively on the optimal seating position before I started driving, I've since experimented with it since. I've come to a conclusion which I will mention later.

3) Yes back pain could occur because of poor posture and/or sedantary lifestyle, but that's not the case here so the repetitive mentions of the same are disrespectful towards other BHPians who have experienced the pain yet do exercise/maintain good habits.

Now, on the seating position in the car. I had a ~600km drive today in the very same car. The optimal position for equally using the muscles in the thigh is considered one where the height of the knee is below/the same as your hip when the clutch pedal is pressed. This simply isn't possible for taller people in budget hatchbacks in India. If I do that completely, I can barely reach the steering at its maximum reach. The seating height adjustment is also a nightmare, with limited headroom.

Those who seem to be suggesting they've had no problem with a low slung car seem to have, by and large, two things in common. They drive nicer cars, for the lack of a better description, and also seem to drive automatics.

My observation of my left knee (I've exercised extensively to recover my muscles in the last two years, and there's been visible success) suggests me that in the best position possible in my current ride, some muscles are being overused and others, underused. With astute observation, I could notice the physical outcome of that and have done a lot to correct it since. I do specific exercise for RSI (repetitive strain injury, which happens when you use a muscle often without any other movement, for a long period of time) of the knee and that's helped. I also cycle. My doctor suggested that I could have early signs of osteoarthritis and sesame oil is sometimes as effective as medical pain relievers, I've occasionally tried a massage and that seems to ease the pain in the short term.

The problem seems to stem from the weird position the left leg is forced in the budget hatchbacks while pressing the clutch. This simply isn't requisite countouring and settings available for reaching a comfortable position. However, Ritz, being more upright, is able to provide me with the ideal "knee should not be above hip height" while pressing the clutch, without needing much adjustment. That could be it.


Pay attention to your position in the seat. It's not good to have your knees above your hip joints, says Shamie. Ideally, both knees and hips should be at a 90-degree angle when you're in the seat, he says
There are similar observations on a T-BHP thread from a decade ago! - (Clutch usage in Manual transmission - Exercise to leg or wear and tear?)

More details on the use of thigh muscles, the ideal height and ways to press clutch here

A lot of people presume, without reading my original post, that I just had some discomfort and came here to crib without looking at how I take care of my health. That's not what I'm doing. We all share our love for driving, and we all know that low slung cars are a particular fun to drive. I'm not here to spoil that party.

Originally Posted by The Rationalist View Post
2) Get a lumbar and seat support. I use both for reading, very good as per my experience.
3) Start abdominal and back exercises.

The Rationalist.
Thank you. I have already started exercises and they've helped immensely. A couple years ago, if I tried to stand on my leg after having sat with crossed legs for a while, I couldn't. Now I have very mild discomfort after driving long distances. This thread is more of an exercise in discovering the source of problem.

Your point about mattress is a good one. I already have an excellent mattress and sleeping straight on it did reduce my tailbone pain considerably. I use ergonomic chairs and sitting position everywhere else.

Originally Posted by RijuC View Post
By the way, where did you consult for these problems in GGN? Once I visited Safdarjung sports injury center, and also consulted Max hospital senior consultants. They gave almost same medicines which are not very helpful for me. I am otherwise consuming SOS medicines like Hifenac or Brufen etc. Or injection shots.
Hello RijuC, I do not reside in GGN. I have actually moved a lot in the last year. From Punjab to MP to now Haryana. I consulted different doctors everywhere. All of the orthopedic surgeons recommended that I stop driving completely, or I'd have serious problems in old age. My own doctor is friendlier and loves a good discussion, he explained to me what's happening with my knee, and what all I could do. In the meantime, he recommended I look up the pain reducing properties of sesame oil as an alternative to something like Diclofenac and I did, here are a couple of links

I also started cycling, looked up a few exercises for the knee injuries. I have been doing those religiously and even stretching my thigh muscles to ensure none gets too tight due to repeated or excessive use. There's only so long for which you can keep consuming pain killers, you ought to look at other solutions. For example, someone here suggested a seating cushion for raising the height. You could also consider visiting a physiotherapist.

Last edited by Aditya : 8th September 2020 at 22:13. Reason: As requested
RoadMonkey is offline   (8) Thanks
Old 8th September 2020, 22:21   #41
viXit's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Hyd
Posts: 807
Thanked: 2,883 Times
Re: Back pain & joint pain: Is a low slung car responsible?

Originally Posted by saisailendra View Post

Along with those supplements, you also can take chondrotin sulphate supplements. That will help replenish the fluid in the joints, providing lubrication and decreasing pain.
This doesn't sound like medical advice at all, sounds like we're talking about some car part

I've driven the city 2016 and safari storme back to back on several occasions, and I'm younger than both of you yet felt slight pain in my left knee after some slow driving requiring a lot of clutch slipping and modulation.

The safari on the other hand is effortless to drive, you're quite literally sitting ON the pedal and pushing down is much easier when compared to pushing forward, like in a low slung car. I can attest that low slung cars do indeed help making your joints miserable.
viXit is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 8th September 2020, 22:52   #42
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 2,987
Thanked: 6,865 Times
Re: Back pain & joint pain: Is a low slung car responsible?

Ideally your hips and knees should be in the same plane. Easily achieved in higher cars.

For the fit and healthy, a 10-12 hour drive can cause very little discomfort in a low slung car.

Last edited by aah78 : 9th September 2020 at 02:21. Reason: Fixed on request.
landcruiser123 is offline  
Old 8th September 2020, 23:08   #43
saisailendra's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: Hyderabad
Posts: 158
Thanked: 1,235 Times
Re: Back pain & joint pain: Is a low slung car responsible?

Originally Posted by viXit View Post
This doesn't sound like medical advice at all, sounds like we're talking about some car part
Lol sure sounds mechanical. But works medically. Trust me, orthopaedics is very much like that, you know, drill machines, titanium screws, titanium plates. Hahaha. Human body itself is a highly sophisticated machine which isn't yet totally understood by science. So there's no wonder if we find resemblance here and there with various gadgets.
saisailendra is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 9th September 2020, 01:15   #44
Romeo_Mike's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: MH04
Posts: 186
Thanked: 567 Times
Re: Back pain & joint pain: Is a low slung car responsible?

I do not think the car is to blame. My Alto K10 has, IMHO, worse seats than the Baleno and sits atleast as low. Yet I have driven for long periods at a stretch without any discomfort in my back.

Going by your experience with your Father's Ritz, there might be a gap between how you like to sit while driving and whats comfortable for your body. I drove a Ritz for 100 kms once and the higher seating position felt odd for a while with me being used to the K10's lower one. I think with you usual driving position in the Baleno, the angles at you pelvis and knee might be too acute or closed than ideal. Please do try out a more stretched out posture with your wrist just about touching the 12 of your steering wheel while your arm is completely outstretched and your back is completely resting (top to bottom) on the seat back. This will make the angles at your knee and pelvis open up a bit. It might take some getting used to, but should make things better.

Like many have said, take good care of your back and do whatever it takes to get it sorted ( including changing your ride, if you are certain that's the root cause). All the best!
Romeo_Mike is offline  
Old 9th September 2020, 02:24   #45
anand.shankar's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 403
Thanked: 549 Times
Re: Back pain & joint pain: Is a low slung car responsible?

I guess it's more of a body type issue, I'm 189cms and till recently was over 120 kg of fat and muscle, I drive a Punto, and have done 16 hour drives without major back and leg fatigue. If at all a part gives up it's usually the knees and the ankles not the back. I'm not sure if the SUV stance would be better in a manual, since it would feel like sitting at a dining chair and lifting ur leg while using the clutch, a reclined position eases your knee movement. The Punto thankfully has seats with decent support and bolstering, at times I drive with the highest seat height, though the back is happiest at that setting, the right ankle starts paining terribly due to the throttle operation, but for anyone of normal height, I guess that would be a ok position.

I for some reason thought sedans were comfortable, but Reading comments on some of the cars here, I feel either Punto is quite comfy or I have a very solid back..
anand.shankar is offline  

Most Viewed
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Copyright ©2000 - 2024,
Proudly powered by E2E Networks