Have you ever been driving for what seems like an eternity, and you stop at a rest stop for a break, get out your truck, grab your back, and make an "Uhnnnhhh!" noise? That's the sound of you not limbering up enough for your long hauls.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, truck drivers are among the top five occupations with the most musculoskeletal disorders. Stretching before and after heading down the highway for several hours can help alleviate and even prevent some of that tendon and muscle soreness. (As always, consult with your physician before embarking on any major exercise routine!). Better circulation, better mental alertness -- even better digestion and reduced stress -- are all bonuses of regular stretching or light exercising. Warming up your body is also important for those of you who have to load and unload your cargo yourself it's a good way to stave off pulled muscles.
Stretching can also help prevent more serious, sometimes fatal conditions like deep vein thrombosis, which can be caused by lack of motion from traveling for long periods time.
A few exercises you can do the next time you pull over for a break include a simple one: walk. Simply walk from one starting point and back, maybe circle the parking lot for at least 10 or 15 minutes. Touch your toes; challenge yourself to reach further for your feet every day until you can actually grab them. Practice your lifting technique. Maybe do some lunges or squats. Click here for a few more stretching ideas, including those for the neck, quadriceps, and hamstrings.
One trucker who created an instructional exercise video for his fellow long-haul drivers called "Truckercise" after he become concerned with the number of pounds he was packing on offers some good advice. Start small, do a little bit at a time and gradually work your way up. Don't get overtired, or you'll get discouraged.
So no excuses. Set aside at least 10 to 15 minutes, if not half an hour, a day for stretching. Maybe do it every time you take a break. Otherwise, you can look forward to possibly years of chronic back and shoulder pain, and that’s no fun.