April 8, 2022
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Back pain is a concern for many truck drivers all over the world. Prolonged sitting, poor posture, and improper lifting form can all contribute to truck drivers experiencing back pain, especially in their lower back. There are many strategies you can employ to prevent and relieve back pain while on the road.
Preventing pain before it becomes a chronic problem is a great strategy. Below are some ways for truckers to stay pain-free while driving.
Make sure your mirrors are in the correct position so you don’t have to lean forward or back to see properly. Reducing repetitive motions, like leaning, can help prevent strain on your core and back muscles and reduce back pain and neck pain.
There are many accessories that you can buy for your cab to increase comfort and keep you from slouching during those extended periods when you’re driving. A good seat cushion that improves posture and promotes improved blood flow can reduce discomfort and pain from sitting for long periods. Some truckers also find that adding a lumbar support pillow can help reduce sciatica pain during long hours on the road.
As a truck driver you may find that you have to do some heavy lifting. Make sure that you use proper form and get help to lift heavy loads. It is also good practice to loosen up your muscles before lifting. Shake out your limbs or jog in place for a few moments before doing any lifting to reduce strain on your body and prevent lower back pain.
It’s easy to forego short breaks while on the road, especially with a looming appointment or deadline. But make time for short breaks at rest stops or truck stops whenever possible. You can use these breaks to get out of your cab, loosen up your muscles, and even do some stretches or short exercises. Sitting for long periods may not seem like it’s hard on your body, but even with proper back support and good posture you will still feel stiff from driving all day.
You may not think it would make much of a difference to drive with your phone or wallet in your pants pocket, but the slight difference the contents of your pockets create can have a big impact on the alignment of your spine while driving. So before you get behind the wheel, take everything out of your pockets so your seated position is more ergonomic.
Daily pain of any kind is not normal. If you’re already experiencing some back pain, it’s important to talk to your doctor about it. There are also things you can do on your own to reduce pain while you’re on a route.
It may seem counterintuitive to do some yoga poses when your back hurts, but the worst thing you can do for back pain is to remain still. Gently stretching and exercising those muscles that ache will help alleviate that pain. And even stretching muscles that seem unrelated (like your hamstrings) can provide back pain relief.
Some great poses for back pain include Child’s Pose, Downward Facing Dog, Cat Pose, and Cow Pose. If you’re new to yoga, taking a few beginner classes can be very helpful, and you can then practice confidently on your own. Below are some basic instructions on a simple yoga flow to help alleviate back pain.
Start off your hands and knees with your hands shoulder-width apart. Gently sit back onto your heels with the tops of your feet flat on the floor. Slowly let your head sink between your shoulders and rest your forehead toward the floor. Keep your hands stretched forward and envision increasing the space in your upper back. Breathe deeply for a few moments and really focus on the stretch. Close your eyes and relax. This is a resting pose, so you can stay here as long as you want.
Coming from Child’s Pose, rock gently back onto all fours. Press your hands into the mat and gently tuck your toes under and take a deep breath in. Keeping your hands pressed into the mat, exhale deeply and take your knees off the floor and straighten your legs as much as you can. Breathe deeply a few times and shift your weight between one foot and the other to stretch your calves. Think about creating space between your shoulders, and relax your neck.
When you’re ready, slowly release your knees down to the floor, untuck your toes, and gently settle back onto all fours.
Coming out of Downward Facing Dog onto all fours, breathe deeply. Press your hands firmly into the mat, and as you exhale, round your back toward the ceiling and drop your head and tailbone down toward the floor. Draw your lower belly in toward your spine. Hold for a few seconds and release on an inhale back to a neutral spine on your hands and knees.
Coming out of Cat Pose on all fours with a neutral spine, breathe deeply for a few moments before going into Cow Pose. This is a good counter-pose to Cat. On an inhale, arch your back and lower your belly. Lift your chin and chest and think about opening space between your collarbones. Release on an exhale and return to a neutral spine on all fours.
After completing these poses, you can relax back into Child’s Pose for as long as you need.
Like stretching and yoga, light exercise will help to loosen up tight muscles and improve circulation to reduce inflammation and pain. Be careful not to overdo it. Know your body and its limits. And remember that any exercise you’re able to accomplish is better than doing nothing.
This is a classic piece of advice for many injuries, but it’s a classic for a reason: it works. Ice packs and heating pads are ideal, but if those are not available, you can make do with zip bags of ice from an ice machine at a truck stop and a damp hand towel microwaved until it’s warm but not hot.
There are many over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories that are safe to take while driving. Keeping the inflammation to a minimum will also help keep the pain at bay. Check with your doctor to see what medication they recommend based on your symptoms and health history.
Many truck drivers think that regular back pain is just a part of the job. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can reduce the likelihood of experiencing back pain with a few modifications to your daily routine. And you can relieve back pain that you do feel with a bit of preparedness before you leave on a route. Remember to consult your doctor about recurring or continuous pain of any kind.