If you’re a trucker, you already know that driving long hours without moving can lead to muscle and joint stiffness, back pain, hip tightness, sciatica, knee pain, neck tension and other types of physical pain. Staying in a seated position for long periods of time reduces circulation, can shorten muscles, weakens your core muscles and may promote the production of scar-like tissue (fascia) in muscles — all of which affect your mobility and ability to enjoy home time. We recently spoke with Hope Zvara, co-founder and CEO of Wisconsin-based Mother Trucker Yoga, to learn more about what truckers like you can do to incorporate more movement into your everyday routine.
Check out Hope’s five stretches you can do on the road that help prevent stiffness and injuries.
1. Pelvic Tilting
According to Hope, anyone who sits a lot can benefit from pelvic tilting stretches. Pelvic tilting loosens the muscles in your hips and back, increasing blood flow to both areas. To do a pelvic tilting stretch, sit tall in your driver’s seat and inhale. When you inhale, arch your back as far as you can. When you exhale, pull your belly in. Hope told us that these motions should kind of feel like you’re swishing water in a bowl. She recommends that you do pelvic tilting stretches as often as you can. Learn how to do this pelvic tilting stretch: https://www.mothertruckeryoga.com/2019/09/09/pelvic-tilts-best-move-for-truckers-with-back-pain/
2. Figure Four Stretch
The figure four stretch can be done either laying on your back or in a seated position. This is a deep stretch that targets your hips, glutes, lower back and hamstrings, and it is great for sciatica, back pain and lower back stiffness. The seated version of this stretch can be done on the edge of your sleeper, a bench or a chair. If you’re doing this stretch in an upright position, sit tall, cross your right foot over your left knee and press on your thigh. You may be able to hinge your torso forward to increase the stretch in your hip. Switch sides and repeat. Learn how to do both versions of this figure four stretch: https://www.mothertruckeryoga.com/2020/09/01/5-exercises-for-sciatica-pain-relief/.
3. Standing Calf Stretch
Hope told us that it’s often helpful to think of the calf muscle as the hydrohalic pump for your heart. When you’re not walking or using your calf muscles, that hydraulic pump is not doing its job and your body has to work harder to get the blood from your feet back up to your heart. Calf stretches can prevent charley horses, as well. You can do a standing calf stretch by leaning against one of your tires until you feel your calf stretch. You also can stretch your calf muscles by standing with the balls of your feet on a step, bending your knees slightly and letting your heel drop toward the ground. Learn how to do a standing calf stretch: https://www.mothertruckeryoga.com/2020/09/01/5-exercises-for-sciatica-pain-relief/
4. Neck Stretch
Sometimes the best stretches are the simplest ones! To do this quick one-minute stretch, begin by sitting tall, exhaling and relaxing your shoulders. Then, drop your head to the left. Use your left hand to gently push your head down toward your left shoulder. Reach your right arm down and place it next to you while flexing your hand. Breathe calmly and focus on opening up the space between your right ear and right shoulder. Repeat on the other side. Learn how to do this neck stretch: https://www.facebook.com/1444603175667256/photos/pb.100040299416780.-2207520000../3167520380042185/?type=3
5. Steering Wheel Stretches
Hope’s steering wheel stretch is perfect for wrist pain, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. While holding the steering wheel all day may not seem like a big deal, the constant gripping of the steering wheel can cause weakness and irritation of the wrist. You may have a repetitive wrist strain if you find it hard to grip other things. To do a steering wheel stretch, take your fingers and push down against the steering wheel with your fingertips straight. Do this with your thumb and with all four fingers, one at a time. Hope recommends doing this stretch as frequently as possible. Learn how to do Hope’s steering wheel stretch: https://www.mothertruckeryoga.com/2021/05/05/a-truck-driver-must-steering-wheel-hand-therapy/.
Disclaimer: By performing any of the exercises mentioned above, you are performing them at your own risk. Trucker Tools is not responsible or liable for any injury or harm you sustain as a result of the above stretches. Before starting any new exercise program, speak with your physician.
If you’d like to find out more about Hope and Mother Trucker Yoga, visit https://www.mothertruckeryoga.com.
For more from our interview with Hope Zvara, read 10 Ways To Fight Fatigue, Reduce Stress and Boost Your Mood. To download the Trucker Tools app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/carriers/.