As drivers, who have never stepped into a big rig and logged in a 11 hour stretch, we can’t say that we really understand the life of a long haul truck driver. We might get frustrated with them, their behemoth of a truck taking up the lane next to us, but without truck drivers we would be lost and left with very little. Remember, fellow motorists, long road truckers bring us everything we need from gasoline to food to those gadgets we impulsively purchased online. They put their lives on the line everyday, at risk of work-related personal injury, but continue down the road one mile at a time.
The Health Profile of a Long Haul Trucker
To all the long haul truckers, you know what long road trucking entails. It’s rewarding, it’s a decent living, and it’s perfect for the perpetual road trip enthusiasts, but it also wreaks havoc on your body. Those long hours of sitting and sleep deprivation will make your body feel as if it was folded up like an accordion (visualize some old cartoon animal), but unfortunately the outcome is less than comical.
Long road trucking can lead to a long list of health problems that may worsen over time, particularly if changes are not made. With a job like trucking, it’s difficult to make changes immediately or even stay consistent with comfortable and healthy alternatives. If you are a trucker and feel the effects of the road, consider these:
- Back Pain: Sitting for long periods of time can turn your back into a tangled, tight mess. From vertebrae issues to sciatic problems, a consistently painful back can make long distances a nightmare. Whether you injured your back while hauling goods onto your truck or it has unexpected flare ups, being able to manage back pain while on the road is important. For back pain relief try:
- Pain Killers: Since most pain killers are not to be used while driving, ask a doctor if you can take anything for back pain
- Quick Relief: Carry a portable and easy to use ice/heat pack to put behind your back when you drive. Keep your back posture in check and adjust the seat to eliminate slouching.
- Support: Lumbar support can be as simple as placing a rolled up towel behind you (in the belt region) or invest in a back support pillow.
- General Fatigue and Overall Body Aches: When you have hours to go and your body and mind are already starting to tire, you have an even longer trip ahead. Whether you’re nodding off or feel tightness in your legs or shoulders, it’s time to listen to your body and take a break. For less fatigue and fewer body aches try to:
- Drink more water and use less caffeine. A good strong cup of coffee will get you going, but water is a better switch for the rest of the drive. It hydrates, it cleanses, it’s just a better alternative. Additionally, even though it’s difficult to eat well on the road, try to eliminate bad for you foods. Focus on healthy proteins and fruits and vegetables, as they will keep you energized.
- Stretch: Simple stretching can do wonders for your body and mind. It improves blood circulation and wakes you up, too. In your down time, try checking out a local yoga class or watch some videos online. You can take these stretches on the road.
Long haul trucking is an often underappreciated occupation and it’s definitely not as easy as it looks. While you are transporting America’s “needs” from coast to coast, don’t forget to take care of yourself.
Submitted by Nik Donovic