Professional drivers spend long hours behind the wheels, and sitting in the same position for a long time can cause back and neck pains. Here are some simple ways you can care for your back on the road.
1. Sitting in the vehicle
Most vehicles don’t have very well-designed seats – they don’t provide enough support for the lower back, which takes a lot of strain as a result.
- Don’t let your back become rounded – it will be most comfortable if the back takes the shape of a slight S-bend, with a shallow hollow behind the waist.
- Don’t poke your chin forward or hunch your shoulders.
- Make sure your seat is in a position where you can keep your knees and elbows slightly bent – being forced to stay straight is not a good idea!
- Make sure your buttocks are against the chair back and that your lower back has as much support as possible.
- Your shoulders should not be hunched – they should be level and relaxed.
2. Climbing out with care
- Use both your arms to push yourself out of the vehicle.
- Shift one leg out at a time – don’t try to swing both out together.
- Don’t twist, but turn the whole body, and try to keep it as straight as possible.
- When you get back into the vehicle, seat yourself sideways first, and then put in one leg at a time.
3. In-Vehicle Exercises
Try not to sit in one position all the time while you’re driving. Take the opportunity to do some gentle exercises that will loosen your muscles.
4. Neck Exercises
- Gently bend your head to one side, pressing your ear down towards the shoulder. Keep your chin tucked in while you do this – if the chin is pushed forward, this can harm the neck joints and upper back. The aim of this exercise is to stretch the side of the neck, which often stiffens up.
- Turn your head as far to the left as you can, till you’re looking out of the passenger window.
- Do the movements slowly, hold for a second, and repeat. Do the same thing turning your head to the right.
- Slowly lower your chin to touch your collarbone, hold, and raise it. Now lift your head to look at the ceiling of the vehicle; hold it, and return to the eyes-front position.
5. Stretching Exercises
- A regular stop won’t just prevent you falling asleep at the wheel; it’ll also help to keep your spine healthy.
- When you stop for your two-hourly break, stretch your body like a cat.
- Stand firmly, both feet on the ground a little apart. Clasp your hands above your head, turn them inside out, and stretch up as far as you can, so that you feel the stretch right down into your waist. Hold for five seconds. Repeat once or twice.
- Now stretch your back: standing upright, put both hands in the small of back. Stretch your whole body upwards and then slightly backwards. Hold this for three seconds.
- You should feel the stretch in your muscles when you do these stretching exercises, but you should never feel pain. If it hurts, stop at once – you are either doing something wrong, or you’ve hurt yourself in some other way.
Never, ever reach back: twisting your body to reach backwards puts it into an unnatural – and very vulnerable – position, especially if you are holding something heavy in your hand. If you have to do something in the back of the vehicle, move your whole body at the same time instead of twisting – move your legs and your torso if you have to turn around. Just be careful not to twist the spine.
Only do your exercises when you are at a standstill or during a pause in your journey – don’t let them take your attention away from the road and the drivers around you.