The personal trainer in me can’t help but pay special attention to my husband, Will’s, comments about his neck or back aching at the end of a long day of driving. I have tried to find things or ways that will provide him some comfort and help prevent further pain.
Our bodies were designed to move. Most of our bodies’ movements use several different muscles and joints that usually work in sync effortlessly. When we remove much of our daily activity and replace it with sitting for very long periods day after day, certain muscles can become weak.
Just one weak muscle or muscle group can create an imbalance that can be felt throughout the entire kinetic chain of our body.
The long hours spent sitting behind the wheel can cause various health issues for truck drivers, such as poor blood circulation and lousy posture. Having poor posture can lead to certain muscles becoming weakened and others being overused. Either will result in physical pain in the back, neck, shoulders, or even hips.
While keeping in mind that everyone is already short on time, I will share some tips that I hope will help you ease the impact of sitting for long hours behind the wheel.
Improve your posture
The vibrations from long hours of driving will impact your spine and discs.
To help ease the pain and damage done, adjust your seat to the most supportive placement for your own body—one that will help you maintain a proper sitting form. Proper form has a slight curve on your lower back.
Another helpful thing is a lumbar support pillow to place on your seat while driving. They are easy to find, and they come in various sizes. I have found several different options by searching on Amazon. There are also several fitness trackers and watches that keep you updated on the number of steps you take each day.
Focus on your core
The muscles in your abdomen and back make up your core. These muscles are crucial for just about every single movement pattern. However, these muscles can become weak when you regularly sit for long periods day after day.
My favorite way to keep those muscles strong is doing planks. Planks engage several muscles in your body and help reduce the risk of lower and upper back pain. Additionally, planks also help with metabolism and body posture.
There are many different variations of planks, and they do not require a lot of time or space.
Strengthen your glutes
Your glutes have the muscles that carry the full load of your upper body while you sit. These muscles also help move your thighs when walking.
My top three exercises for strengthening the glutes are:
You can begin by doing them with no additional weight and simply focusing on muscle contraction. It’s always more important to exercise using proper form.
Don’t forget to stretch
The lack of physical activity and the strain of extended sitting can lead to strained hip flexors. Having strained hip flexors can cause you to feel back pain, thigh or hip pain, just to name a few side effects.
The best way to avoid tightened hip flexors is to do stretches.
You can stretch the muscles while lying down, either before sleeping or after waking up.
Taking an extra minute or two to focus on stretching your whole body every time you can stop and stand is super important. It will help improve your posture, relieve tension, and improve circulation.
Be stronger and healthier
I tried to keep these tips simple and quick because when I try to help Will, I am often met with a tired yet sarcastic “Yeah, I’ll do that.”
I understand that it can feel like a chore for truck drivers who have a tough job that requires a lot of physical and mental strength. But it’s essential to keep yourself healthy, fit, and strong.
At the risk of sounding cliché and preachy, I will leave you with the same line I use on him.
“Helping your body function at its best is just as, if not more, important than making sure your truck is running as it should.”