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F10 / F11 (2011 - Current)
The new chapter in the highly successful story of the BMW 5 Series Sedan (F10) and wagon (F11)

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  #1  
Old 01-30-2012, 03:28 AM
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Stealth.Pilot Stealth.Pilot is offline
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Ergonomic Seating Positions

I have tried various seating positions, but my lower back is always hurting after about 30 minutes of driving. It is the same sort of pain I have if I sleep on a soft bed (I am a side/front sleeper).


Does anyone have any good recommendations on ergonomic driving positions?
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  #2  
Old 01-30-2012, 04:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth.Pilot View Post
I have tried various seating positions, but my lower back is always hurting after about 30 minutes of driving. It is the same sort of pain I have if I sleep on a soft bed (I am a side/front sleeper).


Does anyone have any good recommendations on ergonomic driving positions?
I heard that when we take the PCD, the PC guys gonna explain how to adjust the seats for optimum position
Didn't they?
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  #3  
Old 01-30-2012, 05:36 AM
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Are you sitting low or sitting high? I find that sitting low with my legs straighter out I tend to have more back pain, as much as I enjoy not looking at the top of the windshield all the time. By raising the height of the cushion and getting more bend to my knees, my back is much happier.

As a tall guy who tends to have lots of problems with headroom, I automatically put the seat all the way down when getting into a new car. I did this for my F10 when I first got it, but it ended up hurting my back. The other thing I would do would be to have the cushion "tipped" back, i.e. the front higher than the rear. Someone posted on here that they were told that leads to lower back pain. I flattened the cushion out front to rear and raised the seat to give my knees some bend that way and haven't had an issue since.
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Old 01-30-2012, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by DreamCar View Post
I heard that when we take the PCD, the PC guys gonna explain how to adjust the seats for optimum position
Didn't they?
If you do ED then the PCD don't do full walk through, they only cover what you ask for. It didn't occur to me to ask about how to set the seats.
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  #5  
Old 01-30-2012, 06:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Needsdecaf View Post
Are you sitting low or sitting high? I find that sitting low with my legs straighter out I tend to have more back pain, as much as I enjoy not looking at the top of the windshield all the time. By raising the height of the cushion and getting more bend to my knees, my back is much happier.

As a tall guy who tends to have lots of problems with headroom, I automatically put the seat all the way down when getting into a new car. I did this for my F10 when I first got it, but it ended up hurting my back. The other thing I would do would be to have the cushion "tipped" back, i.e. the front higher than the rear. Someone posted on here that they were told that leads to lower back pain. I flattened the cushion out front to rear and raised the seat to give my knees some bend that way and haven't had an issue since.
Thanks. I have been making exactly that mistake. I will try what you say. I have normally driven with front cushion high, back cushion low, back fairly upright. That may be the issue as you say.

I notice I don't have these issues in the Range Rover which has a more chair like seat.
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Old 01-30-2012, 06:42 AM
bmwcranium bmwcranium is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Needsdecaf View Post
Are you sitting low or sitting high? I find that sitting low with my legs straighter out I tend to have more back pain, as much as I enjoy not looking at the top of the windshield all the time. By raising the height of the cushion and getting more bend to my knees, my back is much happier.

As a tall guy who tends to have lots of problems with headroom, I automatically put the seat all the way down when getting into a new car. I did this for my F10 when I first got it, but it ended up hurting my back. The other thing I would do would be to have the cushion "tipped" back, i.e. the front higher than the rear. Someone posted on here that they were told that leads to lower back pain. I flattened the cushion out front to rear and raised the seat to give my knees some bend that way and haven't had an issue since.
I am 6ft and have had the exact same issue. Seat was low to the ground and tilted so front is higher than rear. My back was hurting after about 30-40 minutes of driving. Thought it was just me, glad (well not really) to hear someone else experiencing the same.

I changed the seating position so that it is about 85-90% as far up as it can go and adjusted the tilt so that the seat looks flat relative to the ground when you are standing outside of the car. This seems to have helped a little bit.
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Old 01-30-2012, 08:56 AM
terp97 terp97 is offline
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Been having the same issue here. I too thought it was just me. I will have front flat along with back and raise seat to see if that works. Lower back hurts after my commute and can't wait to get out of car. I then cant wait to jump in my MB gl450. Will play with it more and just have to sit higher to get flat and slight bend to the knees or go to the dealer for some help.
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Old 01-30-2012, 09:05 AM
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Needsdecaf Needsdecaf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth.Pilot View Post
Thanks. I have been making exactly that mistake. I will try what you say. I have normally driven with front cushion high, back cushion low, back fairly upright. That may be the issue as you say.

I notice I don't have these issues in the Range Rover which has a more chair like seat.
I tend to sit with the back quite upright as well.

Someone (hopefully they are still reading here and will respond) posted that this is what their doctor told them. You want to almost feel like you are going to slide off the front of the seat. Makes sense, when you think about it. By sitting low, keeping the front of your legs up to give your knees some bend, and by sitting upright, you are extending your lower back much more than you would be if your legs were flat. Plus, you're putting extra pressure on your legs just above your knees, which screws up circulation and pinches your sciatic nerve.

The only downside to this, for me, is that I am looking more out of the top of the windshield than I'd like. But that's normal for me. In my MDX, I'm looking through the tint band. It's annoying enough that I contemplated having the windshield in that car replaced with one without a tint band.
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  #9  
Old 01-30-2012, 01:22 PM
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I raised the back of the seat cushion to make it more level. It is still angled though because if I raise it to the point that the cushion is level, then that doesn't leave me enough leg room for my legs. With the seat all the way up, my legs are too long to be able to sit comfortably even with the seat all the way back.

However I haven't had any back pain so far so it seems your suggestion is working. Didn't drive more than 30 minutes today though.
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Old 01-30-2012, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth.Pilot View Post
I raised the back of the seat cushion to make it more level. It is still angled though because if I raise it to the point that the cushion is level, then that doesn't leave me enough leg room for my legs. With the seat all the way up, my legs are too long to be able to sit comfortably even with the seat all the way back.

However I haven't had any back pain so far so it seems your suggestion is working. Didn't drive more than 30 minutes today though.
I'm 6'2" - 6'3" on a good day and have lower back pain. My sport seats don't have lumbar adjustment and I found accidentally (during HPDE) that leaving the seat in full driving mode actually helps - I was too lazy to readjust it (even with memory) and left it there for a weekend. Now I drive exclusively in that position. Short description:

- seat all the way down (helmet clearance)
- as forward as possible without hitting the dash with the knees (about 30 degrees bend in the knee when depressing clutch)
- steering wheel full back towards the driver, hands with 35-40 degrees flex when on 3-9 position
- back of the seat almost straight up, the wrist of the fully extended hand with my head on headrest is bending over the top of the steering wheel
- seat bottom so slightly tilted towards the back of the car

Hope that might help you as well, no way to say - lower backs are SO personal there's no way to predict anything. Good luck.
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  #11  
Old 02-01-2012, 11:11 AM
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I'm 6' 1" and since my track days I have sat close to the wheel. I drove 4 hours from Munich to Vienna yesterday, but I did have the butt shifter going on, no issues at all.
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  #12  
Old 02-01-2012, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth.Pilot View Post
I raised the back of the seat cushion to make it more level. It is still angled though because if I raise it to the point that the cushion is level, then that doesn't leave me enough leg room for my legs. With the seat all the way up, my legs are too long to be able to sit comfortably even with the seat all the way back.

However I haven't had any back pain so far so it seems your suggestion is working. Didn't drive more than 30 minutes today though.
I used to have similar issues in the 535. Not in my M3 for some reason - better seats?

What people often miss is the steering wheel adjustment. I found a higher seating position combined with steering adjustments made a big difference. Steering further forward or backward. I am also slightly over 6 ft.
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  #13  
Old 02-01-2012, 02:57 PM
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What decaf said and also experiment with the lumbar, especially the height adjustment. That said I never got rid of the lower back fatigue issue in the F10. It was likely a defected lumbar that didn't deflate properly as mentioned by another commenter.
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Old 02-01-2012, 03:07 PM
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One thing that helped me was deflating the lumbar support. I found that on first getting into the car, more lumbar support felt really good, but that after 15 minutes or so it began to cause back pain. Going with a less inflated lumbar support is working well.

I will also try out the ideas above to use a higher seat height than I normally would.
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Old 02-01-2012, 06:10 PM
solstice solstice is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JG View Post
I used to have similar issues in the 535. Not in my M3 for some reason - better seats?

What people often miss is the steering wheel adjustment. I found a higher seating position combined with steering adjustments made a big difference. Steering further forward or backward. I am also slightly over 6 ft.
I'm 6'1 and the M3s seats are way better for my body type. Even better than the E60s. 8h non-stop brings zero fatigue in the M3.

Stealth, you spent time in the M5 did you have the same problem? What about in your GS?

Last edited by solstice; 02-01-2012 at 06:13 PM.
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Old 02-01-2012, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by solstice View Post
I'm 6'1 and the M3s seats are way better for my body type. Even better than the E60s. 8h non-stop brings zero fatigue in the M3.

Stealth, you spent time in the M5 did you have the same problem? What about in your GS?
I had the same problem in the M5 and in the GS. The M5 seats are very similar to the F10, main difference being that the side bolsters are adjustable and deeper, but the position adjusting range is similar.

It turns out Needsdecaf was right. Sitting with the seat cushion angled up somehow causes pain in the lower back. I switched to a more level seat cushion with a higher height, and the problem has gone away completely. Now I am very comfy and still have good visibility.

However there is something about the seat design in the BMW which is not optimal. I noticed in the BMW that when you raise the height of the seat, the seat also moves forward. i.e. full back is further forward when seated high than when seated low. This forces a trade-off between being too close to the wheel or too low. In the Lexus I sat in today, raising the height didn't move the seat forward. It was a much better design for creating a comfortable seating position.

It doesn't surprise me that your M3 has better seats - my old E46 M3 also seemed to have better positions available to me.
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Old 02-01-2012, 07:42 PM
2012_535xi 2012_535xi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth.Pilot View Post
I had the same problem in the M5 and in the GS. The M5 seats are very similar to the F10, main difference being that the side bolsters are adjustable and deeper, but the position adjusting range is similar.

It turns out Needsdecaf was right. Sitting with the seat cushion angled up somehow causes pain in the lower back. I switched to a more level seat cushion with a higher height, and the problem has gone away completely. Now I am very comfy and still have good visibility.

However there is something about the seat design in the BMW which is not optimal. I noticed in the BMW that when you raise the height of the seat, the seat also moves forward. i.e. full back is further forward when seated high than when seated low. This forces a trade-off between being too close to the wheel or too low. In the Lexus I sat in today, raising the height didn't move the seat forward. It was a much better design for creating a comfortable seating position.

It doesn't surprise me that your M3 has better seats - my old E46 M3 also seemed to have better positions available to me.
Are you guys bothered by the seat belt too? I can get the seat to a mostly comfortable position, but then the darn seat belt is around my stomach and I'm constantly readjusting it.

Any advice?
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Old 03-01-2012, 06:57 AM
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I always had trouble getting comfortable in both my 05 & 08 E60ís. My 02 530 was great. This 2011 335 with M-Sport I have now is much more comfortable although itís a little difficult to get in and out of. All the above had Sport Package and Comfort Seats. Iím 5í-10Ē and the E60 always felt too low.

This week Iím driving a fairly loaded 528 with Sport package and although itís a really nice car the Sports Seats are way too low for me. My wife and I both noticed that the passenger seat adjusts up higher than the driverís seat and thatís something we noticed on both of the E60ís and that doesnít make a lot of sense. So Iíve been driving this for about two days now and my back is killing me because Iím forcing myself to sit up higher and Itís not working.

Has anyone tried to raise the seat with stand offs or some other means? When I bought my 08 I took it to an upholstery shop and to properly raise the cushion they needed to use new leather on the seat bottom. The leather they had didnít quite match so I never did it.

I really want to go back to a 535 next time but I donít want to be uncomfortable and I question the wisdom of having to spend $500 to modify a brand new $65,000 car. Has anyone had this problem and found a solution?
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Old 03-01-2012, 08:41 AM
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I've certainly never heard of this problem before. Could be something wrong with that seat mechanism, as I know my seat can go up quite high! I've gotten into it after service, etc, and wacked my head on the roof!

Oh, and FYI, they are multi-contour seats, not necessarily Sport seats. They can be ordered stand-alone without the Sport package.
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Old 03-01-2012, 09:53 AM
530CE 530CE is offline
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You are right of course the are Multi-contour seats. I was off on my nomenclature
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Old 03-01-2012, 10:16 AM
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You are right of course the are Multi-contour seats. I was off on my nomenclature
No problem, don't want you to be looking for Sport seats or think you have to get the sport package if you do end up ordering an F10!

In the meantime, try sitting in another car and see if it's different. I'm 6'2", so I've never had this problem, only the opposite!
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Old 03-01-2012, 10:34 AM
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Unlike you 6'+ guys my 5'10" doesn't notice high, low or tilted seat so long as the angle between the seat and back rest is 90-100 degrees (like your in a regular chair). The lumbar is mighty touchy though, it takes a while to find where it fits in the hollow of the back and then get it inflated to the point that the space is mostly filled in-but not so much as you can notice - so you can do a little slumping, like we guys so often do when sitting. The other adjustment that can cause major pain is the seat leg extension. I find that as long as I don't go past the point -with the front edge of the cushion- where you can first feel the tendon at the back of the knee (usually about 3" back/up from the joint itself) then everything is cool, otherwise it gets sore real quick. Also agree with the 30 degree bend in the knee as the best feeling and long term comfort angle. Unlike others here, when I'm close enough to do the lazy American drape of the wrist over the top of the wheel with my head against the seat then I'm so close to the wheel that doing a quick dial for maneuver is impossible - I back off so that 280 degree turn with one (either) hand can be done without hitting wheel, gut or anything else.
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Old 03-01-2012, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth.Pilot View Post
I have tried various seating positions, but my lower back is always hurting after about 30 minutes of driving. It is the same sort of pain I have if I sleep on a soft bed (I am a side/front sleeper).


Does anyone have any good recommendations on ergonomic driving positions?
When I got my first BMW I could not get comfortable despite the "comfort" seats that everyone claims were fantastic.

I did some research and discovered that I had been driving all wrong for 20 years.

I used to sit very far back and reclined, with my knees and elbows hardly bent. It seemed comfortable, but I now realize it is not.

I read up on how race car drivers position themselves and adjusted my seats accordingly, which put me much closer and without nearly as much recline. For awhile it felt cramped and uncomfortable, but as I got used to it, I came to appreciate it.

The comfort seats are designed to cradle your body in the optimal position for controlling the vehicle. For me this means my knees and elbows are bent a little more than 90 degrees, and the top of my head is about a fist's width from the ceiling.

I have never liked lumbar supports. To me they put unnecessary pressure on my lower back. I always set the lumbar support as far back as possible.
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Old 03-03-2012, 07:28 AM
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As a tall guy who tends to have lots of problems with headroom, I automatically put the seat all the way down when getting into a new car. I did this for my F10 when I first got it, but it ended up hurting my back. The other thing I would do would be to have the cushion "tipped" back, i.e. the front higher than the rear. Someone posted on here that they were told that leads to lower back pain. I flattened the cushion out front to rear and raised the seat to give my knees some bend that way and haven't had an issue since.[/QUOTE]

Fortunately, I've been reading Bimmerfest the last couple weeks with more gusto while recuperating from spine surgery. This morning I ventured out with revised seat adjustments, level seat, increased height and it makes a big improvement in comfort. So happy I came across this thread. I too moved the seat all the way down for the extra headroom, and the front seat tilted up. I've done this on seven BMWs, one 911, an SL and an E class. It's been out of habit every time I buy a new car -- I set the seat memory at delivery, and just make minor adjustments. I'd say my comfort seat in now a good two inches higher, and I felt no strain at all. Deflating the lumbar all the way improves comfort fourth still. Thanks!
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Old 03-03-2012, 11:22 AM
darkrail darkrail is offline
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Great thread. Very relevant because A) I'm 6'5 and B) I'm picking my car up today or Monday.

I also automatically put the seat way down and tilt it back, but won't this time. Thanks for potentially saving me some pain.
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