The personal trainer in me can’t help but pay special attention to 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 but also things that can help prevent further pain.
Our bodies were designed to move. Most of the movements our bodies do use several different muscles and joints that seem to work in sync effortlessly. When we remove much of the daily movement from sitting for very long stretches of time 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 a variety of health issues for truck drivers, such as poor blood circulation and bad posture. Having poor posture can lead to certain muscles becoming weakened and others being overused. This will result in physical pain in the back, neck, shoulders or even hips, during simple everyday movements.
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 impact of 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 thing that can help is a lumbar support pillow to place in 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 a number of 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 important 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 to walk.
My top three exercises for strengthening the glutes are:
You can begin by doing them with no additional weight and simply focusing on the contraction of the muscle. It’s always more important to exercise with 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 laying down either before going to sleep or when waking up.
Trying to take an extra minute or two to focus on stretching your whole body every time you are able to 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 more like a chore for truck drivers who have a tough job that already requires a lot of physical and mental strength. But it’s very important to keep yourself healthy, fit, and strong.
At the risk of sounding super cliche 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.”