During a busy season like this, it may be difficult for you to make time for exercise or even for stretching your legs for a few minutes. Sitting too long and not moving enough, however, can cause injuries to your back, high blood pressure and even blood clots, depending on your health and family history. Movement also gets your blood flowing and improves your mood, which is important if you want to stay alert and stay positive.
Trucker Tools recently spoke with Mark Manera, a physical therapy student and health coach who works exclusively with truckers, about how truckers like you can incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Here are some of the exercises that Mark recommends for truckers, all of which can be done with just your body weight and an exercise band. These exercises target the typical points of discomfort for drivers, including the neck, shoulders, lower back and knees.
Bodyweight squats help you strengthen your lower body, including your glutes, hamstrings, quads and thighs. Because balance is involved in doing squats, they also help you strengthen your core abdominal muscles.
Like many of the exercises that Mark recommends, sit-to-stands help you increase the strength of multiple muscles. Doing sit-to-stands will help you build strength in your legs, hips and core. To do sit-to-stands, all you need is a chair or bench.
If you’ve Googled “lunges,” you’ve probably seen dozens of different variations on the basic lunge. Mark recommends starting with a basic lunge to increase strength in your legs and butt.
As you no doubt already know, driving for long hours can cause tension and pain in your neck. To relieve that tension, try to incorporate neck bends into your routine. Neck bends (and neck circles, the next exercise on this list) improve neck flexibility and motility.
Neck circles help relieve the tension and stiffness that you may get in your neck from long hours behind the wheel. Surprisingly, neck circles also help you stretch your upper shoulders and back.
Also referred to as chin tucks, chin-to-neck exercises can be performed sitting in a chair or in your truck (when you’re not driving, of course). Chin-to-necks stretch the muscles that keep your head in good position above your shoulders.
Side bends, also known as oblique bends, have been around for a long time and there’s a reason why: they help you increase the range of motion of your spine and build core strength. Like nearly all of the exercises Mark recommends, you don’t need any equipment to do side bends.
This exercise requires a resistance band of some kind, which can be purchased for as little as $10. Banded rows help you build strength in both your arms and your back. To do resistance band rows, you sit on the ground with your legs outstretched and loop the doubled band around your feet.
To do dips, all you need is a chair or bench. Dips work your triceps and build arm/shoulder strength. Dips also engage your core abdominal muscles. Strengthening your core helps you avoid back injuries.
Hip bridges strengthen the gluteus maximus, the large muscle of the buttocks. Weak gluteus muscles can contribute to lower back pain, which you may already be experiencing. Strengthening your gluteus muscles stabilizes your hip joints and lower back, too.
It you can’t fit several rounds of all 10 of these exercises into your 30 minute break, feel free to mix and match different combinations of these exercises for multiple sets. As always, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
Disclaimer: By performing any of the exercises mentioned above, you are performing them at your own risk. Trucker Tools will not be responsible or liable for any injury or harm you sustain as a result of the above health and fitness tips.
For more health tips and the rest of our conversation with Mark, read Mark Manera of Trucker Fitness: Helping Truckers Get Fit, Healthy on the Road. To download Trucker Tools’ free app for drivers, visit https://www.truckertools.com/carriers/.