Truck drivers often suffer from a variety of body aches and pains due to long hours sitting behind the wheel. Back pain, along with other aches and pains, may be considered part of the job by some truck drivers, but it doesn’t have to be. Stretching and exercising is key to keeping the spine, knee joints, and hip joints flexible. This is because exercise helps to maintain pliability and reduce compression of the joints. Exercise is also important to help limit and reduce excess weight which can contribute to increased pain throughout the body.
Some other factors that create aches and pains are:
- Pinching of the sciatic nerve (runs down the lower lumbar spine and down each leg) which can cause a radiating type of pain in the fronts and back of legs and other areas of the lower back.
- Poor circulation and elevated blood pressure can also cause aching in legs and lead to other problems such as deep vein thrombosis, and edema (swelling).
- Neurological issues and arthritis can bring on shoulder impingement syndrome, and pain in fingers, wrists, hands and other joints.
Even though it can be hard to overcome one in spite of the other, exercise in and of itself will strengthen muscles and make joints more flexible. This, in turn, allows truck drivers to be more comfortable in their daily commutes. Reducing body weight, which adds stress on muscles and bones, can reduce the risk of back pain, knee pain, and other health problems as well. According to the American Obesity Association, musculoskeletal pain, including back pain, is prevalent in those who are overweight or obese.
Exercise helps build and maintain healthy muscles, joints, and bones, while increasing general strength, endurance, and stamina. It increases energy, decreases stress, and improves mental health and mood. Exercise can also help you get better rest and even reduce the risk of diseases including cancer, diabetes, and general illness by strengthening the immune system. It reduces the risk of developing heart disease, strokes, and high blood pressure.
In order to get relief from some chronic issues, truck drivers may need to start by seeing a doctor in order to determine what is causing the pain. Once you know the cause of the pain and you are cleared for exercise, you can take the steps to relieve any additional pain and help limit more problems in the future.
10 Tips to increase exercise and help alleviate and reduce aches and pains:
- Start slow and increase physical activity by adding 2 sessions of 10-15 minutes of cardio exercise at least 3 days a week or as often as possible by walking around your truck and up and down the steps.
- Download exercise apps designed for truck drivers that take you through 10-15 minutes of cardio and/or strength training and repeat this twice a day during a break.
- Carry hand weights and put sticky notes in your truck with a series of pre-planned exercises and do them throughout the day when possible.
- Take posture breaks and try adjusting the seat in the truck to create a new sitting position every 20-30 minutes.
- Relax your grip on the steering wheel every few minutes and do hand and wrist stretches at red lights by rotating wrists left and right in a circle.
- Get out to stretch back and legs whenever possible.
- Avoid sitting on wallets or other items you may keep in your pockets, which creates poor alignment and stress on the spine.
- Strengthen abs by squeezing abdominal muscles in and holding through a favorite song or for one to two minutes, and repeat often.
- Do shoulder shrugs to help decrease stress and tension from the shoulder area. Do 10-15 repetitions throughout the day or whenever stressed.
- Utilize days off to do pre-planned exercise programs, such as 20-30 minutes of cardio (biking, walking or cardio machines) and adding in weight resistance for all major muscles groups.
Consult your physician first to be sure exercise is safe for you and how to exercise safely to accommodate any current condition you may have.
For more benefits of exercise see: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/
By Cindy Trimble – CDL Wellness Coach