Every truck driver will know the feeling of emerging from the cab after a long drive and finally getting to stretch your legs. That brief respite can be a blessing after all that time spent sitting.
But did you know that you’re in danger of getting chronic back pain as a truck driver? According to a small study, 59% of drivers experience lower back pain, but this figure could be even higher.
All of those long hours sat down in a vibrating vehicle can wreak havoc on your spine, leading to stiffness and eventually severe back pain.
However, once you’re aware of this, there are ways you can prevent it.
Causes of back pain
To understand the causes of back pain, you need to understand the biology of the spine.
The spine features twenty-four vertebrae stacked on top of each other. In between the vertebrae, intervertebral discs filled with fluid prevent bones from rubbing and keep the spine flexible.
However, sitting down for long periods can lead to disc dehydration. This is when the disks lose fluid, causing your spine to compress and creating pain.
Additionally, vibrations from your truck can make this worse. Each of those rattles and vibrations will cause your discs to lose yet more fluid, increasing back pain.
Sitting for extended periods can also ‘pinch’ the sciatica nerve that runs from your spine to your leg, which can also cause back pain. In fact, sciatica is one of the most common forms of back pain, affecting up to 40% of people.
Thankfully, there are ways you can prevent and alleviate back pain as a truck driver. A good starting point is adding a lumbar pillow to your seat, which will naturally support your back while you drive.
There are also exercises that you can incorporate into your driving breaks. However, you should resist the urge to leap out of your seat and start stretching right away - doing so could do more damage.
Aggressively stretching your spine while it’s still tight can cause your vertebrae to rub together, leading to more pain.
Here are some easy exercises you can do that will prevent the onset of back pain.
Start your stretching routine by getting into a squat position on the ground. This will start the process of rehydrating your intervertebral discs and relieve any stiffness.
An easy stretch you can do while in the driver’s seat is a spinal twist. Keep facing forward while slowly turning to one side, bringing your hand to the opposite side of your seat to twist further. Hold for ten seconds, then repeat the exercise on the other side.
When you’re not at work, regular exercise will keep your body supple and flexible, helping to prevent back pain from starting in the first place. One of the simplest forms of exercise you could try is yoga, which incorporates stretching and strengthening exercises to keep your spine healthy.