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      01-27-2013, 03:29 PM   #1
scm6079
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Sciatica pain, how to adjust the seats?

I've owned two e92 335s before my new m3 - both with the sport package, but for some reason I keep getting nasty sciatica pain with my m3 seats. I've suffered from sciatica for years, and I know the seat base is the same between the 335 and m3 - so it has to be the seat adjustment. Problem is I don't know where to start to "properly" adjust the seats.

Does anyone have any good pointers to reduce pressure on my upper thighs - it feels like the bottom side bolsters are the problem. I'm 5' 8" 195lbs, and need the seat fairly upright to reach the wheel even fully extended. No pain in my back - all in the sciatic nerve area in hamstring area.

Thanks in advance.

-Scott
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      01-27-2013, 03:32 PM   #2
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http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Adams14.html

"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 that 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, 5'11? 170 lbs., who slouches badly) and designed a seat around him. Ever afterward, we've all been forced into a position that only he finds comfortable.

Today's 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. You'll need lumbar or low back support, too, to keep from leaning back and causing neck and shoulder pain. Once you've positioned yourself as if you were on horseback, slip a small rounded cushion or rolled up towel behind the small of your back.You don't need to lean back. Your lower body will support your upper back and head. You may need to bring your seat closer to the steering wheel.

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 better."
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      01-27-2013, 03:34 PM   #3
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I recommend a high seating height, but make sure the seats base is not tilted backward. I'm not a doctor, so I can only guess that this will help. If you have it bucketed, it will likely put pressure on your thighs. Definitely keep the wallet out of your back pocket.
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      01-27-2013, 03:37 PM   #4
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Didn't see post #2 until after my post. Sounds like it supports my suggestions. I believe the M3 seats should be plenty adjustable to meet the recommendations in #2. Much more so than most cars.

Good luck with you pain OP.
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      01-27-2013, 03:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scm6079 View Post
I've owned two e92 335s before my new m3 - both with the sport package, but for some reason I keep getting nasty sciatica pain with my m3 seats. I've suffered from sciatica for years, and I know the seat base is the same between the 335 and m3 - so it has to be the seat adjustment. Problem is I don't know where to start to "properly" adjust the seats.

Does anyone have any good pointers to reduce pressure on my upper thighs - it feels like the bottom side bolsters are the problem. I'm 5' 8" 195lbs, and need the seat fairly upright to reach the wheel even fully extended. No pain in my back - all in the sciatic nerve area in hamstring area.

Thanks in advance.

-Scott
You can also adjust the steering wheel...pull it towards your body and drive more relaxed
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      01-27-2013, 04:00 PM   #6
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I too suffer from sciatica. Mostly from years of abuse on my back and lack of exercise in recent years, but I attribute a lot of it to my previous car (Acura TL). The M's seats are a million times better and can easily be adjusted to support your needs. Previous posts have good info as far as seating position. Personally I cannot use a towel in the small of my back because it pushes me too far forward in the seat for my liking. For daily driving I relax the bolsters and raise my seat position up to ensure my legs are parallel with the floor as was mentioned earlier. Ensure your lumbar is fully engaged and play with the position of it to suite your needs. Hopefully you get some relief...I certainly share in your frustration!
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      01-28-2013, 11:27 AM   #7
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Finally someone with the same issue I have. I have a herniated disc between L3 & L4 and depending on what car I am driving, I get Sciatica pain as well Post#2 makes a whole lot of sense though.
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      01-28-2013, 12:08 PM   #8
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Poster #2 seems to know their stuff BUT- I have an old L4-L5 injury and my back pain is controlled by doing exactly the oposite- I'm only pain free if I tilt the seat bottom all the way up in the front and down in the back- I think his analysis is good for avoiding stressing the nerve in it's course thru the muscles but may pinch the same nerves on their way out of the spine in some people- point is (to paraphrase a certain Russian author) EVERY BAD BACK IS DIFFERENT! Fiddle around and do what works for you and change position during long drives to pass off work to different muscle groups.
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      01-28-2013, 01:00 PM   #9
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Make sure to take your wallet out of your back pocket ;-)
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      01-28-2013, 08:45 PM   #10
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A twisted turn on the thread: OP are you driving MT or DCT?

As an MT driver for nearly 30 years, I was recently diagnosed with a rare carcinoma. Luck would have it, part of it is in my pelvis and I managed to figure out that driving with a clutch was a major (Literal) pain in the assteroid.

Switching from MT to DCT, the car no longer hurts me.

I don't know how many others have similar back pains - and we don't even realize it, but the clutch is beating us up. Bet you 6MT guys never thought this one through!

As for the other advice, many years ago I started wearing swat/cargo pants and my wallet in the magazine pocket (thigh). This has helped tremendously. Try that first!
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      01-28-2013, 08:55 PM   #11
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Dont adjust your seats. Adjust your back. And exercise and stretch.
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      01-28-2013, 08:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peeti View Post
A twisted turn on the thread: OP are you driving MT or DCT?

As an MT driver for nearly 30 years, I was recently diagnosed with a rare carcinoma. Luck would have it, part of it is in my pelvis and I managed to figure out that driving with a clutch was a major (Literal) pain in the assteroid.

Switching from MT to DCT, the car no longer hurts me.

I don't know how many others have similar back pains - and we don't even realize it, but the clutch is beating us up. Bet you 6MT guys never thought this one through!

As for the other advice, many years ago I started wearing swat/cargo pants and my wallet in the magazine pocket (thigh). This has helped tremendously. Try that first!
Never drive with your wallet in your back pocket, It messes up your back and your leather. The pivot pull out door pocket is perfect for your wallet.
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      01-28-2013, 09:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gblansten View Post
http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Adams14.html

"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 that 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, 5'11? 170 lbs., who slouches badly) and designed a seat around him. Ever afterward, we've all been forced into a position that only he finds comfortable.

Today's 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. You'll need lumbar or low back support, too, to keep from leaning back and causing neck and shoulder pain. Once you've positioned yourself as if you were on horseback, slip a small rounded cushion or rolled up towel behind the small of your back.You don't need to lean back. Your lower body will support your upper back and head. You may need to bring your seat closer to the steering wheel.

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 better."
Thank you for the very informative response. When I haven't driven my ///3 for a while and get in to it, I do suffer from back pain and shoulder and neck. I've tried to sit parallel but of no use. Regardless, thank you.
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      01-29-2013, 09:51 PM   #14
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Today's discovery - for those with wide shoulders, our sport seats suck.

Try this - find a towel or a really flat pillow that you can fold to fill the pace between the shoulder bolsters. Basically the goal is to flatten the back of the seat...

oh my, that IS comfy.
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      01-30-2013, 01:56 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gblansten View Post
http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Adams14.html

"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 that 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, 5'11? 170 lbs., who slouches badly) and designed a seat around him. Ever afterward, we've all been forced into a position that only he finds comfortable.

Today's 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. You'll need lumbar or low back support, too, to keep from leaning back and causing neck and shoulder pain. Once you've positioned yourself as if you were on horseback, slip a small rounded cushion or rolled up towel behind the small of your back.You don't need to lean back. Your lower body will support your upper back and head. You may need to bring your seat closer to the steering wheel.

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 better."

OP here -- Really great post! That seems to describe my issues perfectly.

I've tried re-adjusting the seat as "flat" as it gets - and it is certainly better than it was before. Right now I have the seat MUCH higher than I'm used to. In my Lotus I practically am on the floor (literally just a couple inches tops off the floor). Now I have the M3 seat adjusted as flat as it goes, plus pretty high - which seems to bring me closer to the level hip/knee height ratio. It feels strange sitting this high!

Now I'll need to try the "adjust a little each drive" for a week or two and see if I can get it just right. I may also try the towel trick and see if that helps.

Back/leg pain really does suck.

-Scott
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