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Truck drivers and chronic back pain go hand in hand due to long hours in the seat and near-constant vibrations from the road. There are easy stretches and adjustments drivers can make throughout the day to make truck driving friendlier to your back.
Before you get out of bed
There are some great stretches to warm your back before you rise from the bunk. Remember with stretching to take it slow, keep breathing, and don’t pull the muscles past the point of relief.
1. Pelvic Lift
Begin on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on your bunk. Place your arms at your sides for support. Take a deep breath, and as you inhale, slowly lift your back side off the mattress. Hold for as long as is comfortable then slowly lower your back side to the mattress.
Back in the starting position, slowly pull one knee to your chest and hold it with your hands just below the knee cap. Hold for a few seconds then slowly release your leg to starting position. Repeat this with the opposite leg.
3. Knee Drops
From starting position, keep your knees together and slowly drop them to the right. Your shoulders should stay flat on your bunk while your hips rotate. Slowly return to the starting position, and repeat the movement on your left side.
During the day
Posture is probably the most important factor in preventing back pain. It will feel awkward at first, but become aware your body’s alignment during your day.
1. Adjust your seat.
Before you hit the road, take a couple of minutes to consider your seat. If you prefer to drive with your legs straight out, pull your seat in a few inches to bend your knees. Straight legs may be putting too much strain on your sciatic nerve, the body’s largest nerve that runs from the lower spine through the back of the leg. When the sciatic nerve is strained, pain can light up everything between your back and your toes.
Also, don’t forget about the backrest. Pull the backrest into a position that allows your shoulders to rest comfortably against it while sitting up straight. Too many drivers lean forward over their steering wheel to stretch their back but doing so pulls the back even further into poor posture.
2. Go for a walk.
A few laps around the truck in the morning or while waiting for the loading/unloading process stretches all of your joints. A good heel-to-toe step with shoulders back and head up align your hips, back, and neck.
3. Check your neck.
While driving, be aware of where you tend to hold your head. Is it out in front of your shoulders, way back against the headrest, or comfortably level between the two? Adjust your posture to align your hips, back, and shoulders comfortably. With your head in the new position, adjust your mirrors for your ideal posture. Your mirrors will remind you to straighten up.
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