To keep your fleet running efficiently, your truck drivers must spend a lot of time out on the open road. While this job offers freedom, chances for personal advancement, and travel, long periods behind the wheel can also wreak havoc on your drivers’ bodies.
Injured and achy drivers are more likely to make mistakes, which increases the risk of accidents, missed deadlines, and further injury. In fact, 41% of accidents involving semis are due to driver recognition factors or physical factors that affect the driver-like chronic pain. Help your drivers alleviate the negative side effects of frequent driving through the following methods.
To Prevent Pain
Before your drivers start their route, it’s important that they compensate for the problems associated with long-distance driving using these two methods.
1. Give Your Spine Support
In a study conducted in the US and Sweden, 50% of frequent drivers reported back pain. Researchers believe this high rate for back pain results from the way driving vibrations interact with the lack of back support in seats.
To counteract this issue, support your lower back. Try the following methods:
• Buy a lumbar support with straps to keep it in place on the seatback.
• Place a roll of paper towels or a rolled-up towel behind your lower back.
2. Change Your Posture
Perpetual slouching, leaning, and tiling increase the tension in your body. This can result in the follow chronic problems:
• Back pain
• Blurred or otherwise compromised vision
• Joint pain
• Neck stiffness
Simply changing the way you sit can alleviate or eliminate these problems. Adjust the seat, headrest, and rearview mirror to comfortable positions. You should not have to tilt your head to see the rearview mirror.
To Deal with Pain
For drivers who have already begun to feel the effects of sitting in a truck for long periods of time, these simple techniques can help reduce their pain.
3. Use Heat and Ice Therapy
Many kinds of pain result from inflammation. Cold reduces inflammation; applying a cold pack in 20 minute cycles is a good way to prevent complications. For more severe pain, alternate ice and heat therapy.
Bring a cold pack and heating pad on the road with you. Keep cold packs in a cooler so they are ready for when you most need them. Warm up a reusable heating pad in a gas station microwave. Or, for convenience, opt for one-use heating pads or invest in a heated seat pad.
4. Practice Relaxation Techniques
Much of the pain that comes with frequent driving is due to strain from keeping your body in an unnatural position for long periods of time. Consciously relax parts of your body in turn, including your:
• Non-working leg
• Upper arms
Mental relaxation can also help relieve pain. Keep your mind relaxed using the following techniques:
• Develop a regular exercise routine
• Get enough sleep
• Listen to soothing music or nature sounds while driving
5. Maintain Driving Conditions
You probably already have a routine for keeping your cab just the way you like it. Use this habit to reduce your pain in the following ways:
• Choose and maintain a single comfortable temperature. Some tension comes from your muscles adjusting to temperature changes.
• Keep your eye line level as you drive. Adjust your mirrors to force yourself to sit up straight and leave them in those positions.
• When visibility is poor, move your seat forward instead of leaning. This allows you to keep your usual posture.
6. Use Over-the-Counter or Natural Pain Relievers
Truckers should never use prescription medications while driving. Instead, opt for an over-the-counter solution or use one of the following natural remedies:
• Apply natural ointments like Arnica to reduce inflammation. These ointments reduce the pressure on your joints and give your body time to heal.
• Eat foods high in resveratrol like red grapes, cranberries, and blueberries. This chemical blocks the chemicals that cause tissue degeneration, which can keep you feeling healthy.
• Use essential oils like wintergreen, balsam fir, and copaiba. You can take some essential oils orally while you should apply others topically. These natural remedies can counteract inflammation and provide aromatherapy benefits.
If any of your drivers experience chronic or severe pain, encourage them to see a chiropractor, doctor, or physical therapist. The physical effects of driving are better combated if taken on early.
As an owner/operator, you should supply your drivers with the knowledge and tools they need to maintain their health and comfort. Here are some ways you can do that:
• Distribute instructions for relaxation techniques.
• Offer short classes on pain and tension relieving exercises.
• Provide each new driver with a lumbar support or cold packs.
• Encourage your drivers to follow a regular exercise program and healthy sleep schedule.
Efficiency and health go hand in hand. Help your drivers stay comfortable and productive using these tips.