Back pain is a common complaint among long-haul truck drivers who spend endless hours slumped over the wheel as the miles roll by. Back pain is to truckers what carpal tunnel syndrome is to people who type all day. The good news is that truckers do not have to live with back pain. If they understand what is causing it, they can also take steps to alleviate it.
In this post, we will discuss three simple things you can do to save your back. The idea behind each of these is one of prevention. If you can prevent damage to your back as a result of truck driving, you will avoid not only the back pain associated with your job but also potentially more serious back injuries.
Use an Orthopedic Seat Cushion
Though seat designs have come a long way over the last decade or so, trucks are still notorious for having seats with little to no lumbar support. This is what causes truck drivers to slouch. They consciously have to force themselves to sit straight up which, over time, causes the front of the body to slump in a way that nature never intended. An orthopedic seat cushion is the answer.
The orthopedic seat cushion takes up that empty space between the small of your back and the seat. It offers just enough support to help you naturally sit up straight without you consciously working to sit forward. This should prevent most slumping. You can buy orthopedic seat cushions designed especially for truck drivers anywhere you find truck driving supplies. They are relatively inexpensive, so buying one will not break the bank.
Exercise the Back Daily
C.R. England routinely encourages drivers to get daily exercise simply because it is good for your overall health. As part of a daily exercise routine, drivers should include a couple of exercises for the back. Here’s why: the back is myriad of discs and fluid sacs all built along the structure of the spine. Those discs and sacs get compressed with extended amounts of time sitting. In a truck, this compression is made worse through road vibration.
Exercises for the back are designed to stretch things out again. It allows the fluid sacs to take in more water and the discs to stretch enough to remain flexible. Good exercises for the back include toe touches and squats. A chiropractor or medical doctor can recommend additional exercises based on your own circumstances and health.
Learn to Use the Three-Point Stance
Sometimes a trucker’s back pain is not caused by sitting for so long. Sometimes it is caused by getting in and out of the truck improperly. A driver may twist his or her body just enough to tweak the back in such a way as to cause weeks of unnecessary pain. Avoiding these kinds of injuries is a matter of adopting the three-point stance whenever entering or exiting the truck.
The three-point stance dictates that you always keep three points of contact with your rig. Start by grabbing the bars on either side of the door frame upon entering. Then place one foot on the running board and pull yourself up. Put the other foot into the cab and finish the act of pulling yourself into the seat. When it’s time to exit, repeat the process in reverse.
Also remember to adopt the three-point stance when climbing into a trailer. Use the same process of grabbing with your hands and hoisting with your foot simultaneously. Maintaining the three points of contact ensures that your body’s weight is evenly distributed and that you stay stable.