Truckers have an occupation that’s especially hard on the spine, and some even have to get spinal fusion surgery or seek out back fusion alternatives. Part of the reason for this is because of all of the sitting necessary when hauling goods or products from one location to another. While office workers who sit for long periods can minimize back pain by taking periodic breaks, this isn’t always a realistic option for truckers with schedules to keep. It may not be possible for truckers to prevent back pain altogether, but there are steps that can be taken to make trips less demanding on the back and its supporting parts.
1. Pay Attention to Your Seat Comfort Before Each Trip
Take a moment before you start a trip to find a comfortable position in your seat. Avoid sitting on your wallet or anything else in your back pockets. Consider investing in a heated car seat cushion (the heat helps soothe aching back muscles). A memory foam cushion or even a rolled-up towel can provide similar relief from lumbar (lower back) muscle strain.
2. Periodically Adjust Your Seat
You may not be able to stop too often to get out and stretch, but you can make regular adjustments to your seat. If you’re picky about your seat position, make a conscious effort to physically shift your own position to prevent straining the same muscles for long periods.
3. Apply Ice or Heat When Back Pain Occurs
Should you experience nagging back pain between trips or shifts, apply ice or heat to relieve sore muscles and increase circulation. Place a cloth or other barrier between ice and the affected area of your back to prevent skin irritation. Limit applications to about 15 to 20 minutes with each use. Alternating heat and ice applications sometimes provides better relief because of the combined benefits of heat and cold. Moist heat (baths, showers, heat packs) is often more effective than dry heat.
4. Find Places Where You Can Stretch/Exercise
You may not have time to go to the gym between trips, but simple exercises and stretches can still be beneficial for your back. When you get to a rest stop, walk around to stretch your hamstrings. Some other simple exercises you can do while at a rest stop or during a break in your schedule include:
- Gentle side-to-side rotations
- Shoulder rolls to ease upper back tension
- Hip and gluteus stretches to compensate for constant sitting
- Flexion stretches (bending the head forward and easing the chin toward the chest)
5. Consider Yoga and Other Gentle Forms of Exercise
There are benefits to trying to get regular exercise when you have a day or two off. If you don’t have time to commit to a regular gym routine, consider gentle forms of exercise such as yoga. What’s appealing about yoga is that you can learn moves like downward dog, pigeon, the forward bend, or the child’s pose and do them just about anywhere. Yoga also helps with relaxation, which is also good for the spine.
Truckers aren’t the only people who have a profession that can result in back pain. Whether you need spinal cord stimulation or a Mobi-C disc replacement, Dr. Hyun Bae at The Spine Institute can help. Give us a call today at 310-828-7757 and take the first steps toward living a pain-free life.