We love working in the trucking industry, but let’s face it, any job where you’re sitting for a prolonged period of time – whether in an office chair or truck cab – can be problematic for our backs. The addition of physical labor, in lifting cargo and moving large pieces of equipment, means truckers have to take extra care of their back.
There’s no reason why truck drivers shouldn’t be comfortable as possible, and working pain-free. As a professional trucker, you’re piloting powerful pieces of machinery down the road, keeping the wheels of commerce greased, and you deserve to be strong and healthy.
While back pain can be written off for most people as a casual hazard for the weekend warrior to worry about as he or she completes a project on the house, for truckers it’s a different story. For the truck driver, back pain can be as much an occupational hazard as extreme weather conditions. That’s why fleets need to make sure they do everything they can to prevent, mitigate and help treat trucker back pain.
As with any job where one is seated for long stretches of time, truck drivers are exposed to risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders affecting everything from the neck and shoulders to upper and lower back.
Tips to Drive By
Just the physical effort needed to stay in a good posture all day alone can lead to muscle fatigue. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to both prevent and alleviate back pain.
Have you ever worked to fit the truck seat to your body? Follow these steps:
- Adjust your seat height until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Ensure your knees are not higher than your hips and place your feet flat on the floor.
- Ensure you have good lumbar support to minimize slouching. Good lumbar support also helps to dampen exposure to vibration. Just ensure you aren’t overfilling a lumbar bladder, lest it overly rounds out your spine.
- Slightly recline the seat back. Make sure to adjust your seat distance both fore and aft. You want to make sure each pedal can be depressed without having to raise or rotate yourself out of the seat.
- If you are using a seat-pad, ensure the depth is at least two fingers. Test it by placing your fingers between the back of your knees and the front of the seat pad. Two fingers-worth is all you need.
- If you are a particularly tall truck driver, tilt the seat pan so that the front of the seat meets the knees. If you are operating a vehicle that requires high clutch use, consider dropping the front of the seat pan.
- Adjust your steering wheel so that your hands are at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions. Your elbows should also be close to your sides. You don’t want to have to reach for the steering wheel.
- Adjust your mirrors so that you have a clear view without having to slouch or twist. Use them as a cue to sit up if you feel you begin to slouch.
Another consideration lies in the frequency of your activity. To help prevent injuries, make sure you are not going directly from prolonged sitting to lifting or carrying heavy objects. You want to give your back a few moments to adjust before doing things such as completing paperwork or interacting with clients.
Instead, walk around the truck a few times or try doing some mild stretching. Above all, make sure to never twist your back when entering or exiting your vehicle.
In the end, the best way to ensure your back stays pain-free and happy is to practice postural fitness. If you are a fleet manager, ask yourself if you are adding equipment and training to help truck drivers maintain good posture. In the end, kicking back pain to the back of the line is about more than just comfort.