Good posture in trucking, if you’re a driver, you know exactly what I’m referring to. We’ve all been told at least a bazillion times by our parents to “sit up straight” or “don’t slouch“. Well guess what? They were right! So, you better straighten up and read ahead if you want to prevent long-term damage to your body. In this article we are going to cover the negative health aspects of bad posture, what exactly is good posture for a truck driver and some ideas to improve your posture in the truck.
Have you experienced headaches, neck pain, back pain, difficulty breathing, digestive issues or pain, numbness or swelling in you legs and feet? These could be indications that your posture is not good and will eventually lead to long-term negative health effects. Where there is no evidence to suggest that bad posture is a factor in developing scoliosis (mild to extreme curvature of the spine), being hunched over or slouching while driving can lead to neck pain and back pain.
Think about your entire spine from the base of your skull to your tailbone. In between each vertebrae are small sections of collagen and ligament more commonly referred to as “discs”. These discs act as mini shock absorbers to keep us out of pain and our spines aligned as the body moves about. When we hunch over or slouch it puts our vertebrae at bad angles. This in turn puts more unnatural pressure on our discs. Over time this can cause the disc to weaken, degrade and sometimes even burst or herniate. And speaking from experience as one who has had two herniated discs, this is very, very painful and not fun at all!
The spinal cord is also referred to as the nerve center for our body. The spine is the pathway that all of our nerves run along to get to the various parts of our bodies. With that being said, the neck is at the very top of the nerve center connecting the nerves to our brain. And with all the bouncing around we do in our trucks, if we’re slouched or hunched over, this can lead to long-term problems with the discs in our necks. If one of those nerves are pinched, just like in the spine, it can lead to awful pain and terrible headaches that can radiate over the top of your skull and all the way into your cheekbones.
When our posture is bad in the truck it compresses our diaphragm and lungs. And let’s face it, we don’t get out of the truck enough for good exercise and stretching. So this can effect our breathing. And looking at the way our hours of service run, we can drive at least seven and a half hours at a time. Now if you extend that out for several years without regular exercise, you can only imagine increased risk to the degeneration of your diaphragm and lungs and even decreased oxygen capacity.
Another area of concern with bad posture is the digestive system. Compressing the stomach cavity can cause build up and blockage of intestines. This can lead to pain and constipation. And we all know how hard it is to have a good diet on the road. Bad posture can compound the problem and wreak havoc on our digestive systems.
The last area of concern we’ll discuss is the legs and feet. If our truck seats are set too high this can cause problems with numbness, pain, swelling and circulatory issues (decreased blood flow). The more swelling and decreased blood flow to the lower limbs can cause some major problems over time. Varicose veins is probably the most common problem associated with these symptoms. Varicose veins are known to be very painful and more often than not require surgery.
However, the major concern that is unique to Truck Drivers. Is the extra pressure and stress put on our bodies from the constant pulling, pushing and the bumps that jar us up and down in our seats. All of these outside multi-directional forces can combine to accelerate the harm that bad posture can do to your body. This is a huge reason why we must educate ourselves on posture and how we can correct it.
Some of the things that I like to do personally to keep my posture good is to put my wallet in my front pocket so both hips are even while driving. I keep my chair low enough so that my thighs and calves are at a 90 degree angle. Make sure my mirrors are adjusted properly to my seating position so I don’t have to strain or move to see them. But don’t just take my word for it, here are a few things recommended by the ACA (American Chiropractic Association) that you can do as a truck driver right now to help you avoid further problems down the road.
Avoiding Pain On The Road
Keep your feet flat on the floor, lower your seat if they don’t reach the floor. Don’t cross your legs. Your ankles should be in front of your knees. Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat to help with circulation. Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips, in other words an upside down “L” or even an upside down “L” that’s leaning forward a little. Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low- and mid-back or use a back support cushion. Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground as much as possible. Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time, so shifting back and forth and side to side often is okay.
I always remember those old-timers that taught me how to drive. They talked till they were blue in the face about good eating habits, good posture and all of the other essential things we take for granted. And now as I read and write articles on the topics and go through extra training with my company. I can’t help but think that I heard all of this before and that maybe I should have listened the first time around.
If you continue to suffer from leg pain, hip pain, back pain, I recommend a good truck driver cushion. Even with bouts of severe pain, you can find relief with a quality driver cushion. Be sure to check out our reviews on these 3 driver cushions.