by Pride Transport | Oct 28, 2020
Staying healthy on the road is never easy, and we do all we can to help our drivers stay informed and filled with enough information to make better, more healthy choices in their lives and while working. We do this because we care about drivers not just as employees but as people too.
Keeping in that vein, we have these suggestions for simple exercises you can do right in your cab to keep you feeling good and healthy.
A word on being relaxed
It’s kind of a common phrase; I just want to get home and relax. This is usually translated to sinking into the couch and sleeping. That is a beautiful feeling. However, you don’t want to be falling asleep behind the wheel.
Being relaxed doesn’t mean you’re ready to fall asleep. When we talk of relaxation here, we suggest that you rid your body of tension. Tension that holds your breath in and locks your muscles up. When you’re holding tension, your body isn’t able to react as quickly and smoothly. Tension in your neck or shoulders will lead to headaches, impaired vision, and a general feeling of unease. So, when you do these exercises, you’re seeking to relax your body to remove tension so you can be more available to react and move with ease and precision.
If, after doing these exercises, you feel like you’re going to fall asleep, get out of your cab and get the blood flowing, doing some jumping jax, or just go for a brisk walk. Get the blood flowing, and this will wake you up.
Relaxation is a state of readiness, not a state of slumber. Once you’re relaxed, you’re more in control of your body, and you’re less likely to pull a muscle or get injured. So, get relaxed and ready for the road.
Some thoughts on breathing
Thankfully, we don’t have to think about breathing; it just happens. Of course, there are situations when we have our breath taken away; sometimes, those are fun. But, for the most part, we just breathe without much thought.
When you’re doing these exercises, and all the time you’re driving, you’ll want to think about your breathing. When you take a breath in, if you feel your shoulders rising, you’re not breathing correctly. Ideally, for a good breath, your stomach should be the only thing that’s moving. If you feel your shoulders moving when you take a deep breath, here’s what you can do.
Place the palm of your hand on your belly and think about breathing into your hand. You should feel your stomach round outward a bit, and your shoulders should stay still. Take a deep breath, counting to ten as you inhale, and then let the breath out on a ten count as well. You should feel your body fill up, your belly, and then the area around your waist and lower back. That’s a nice, deep breath.
These deep breaths will calm you, relax you and let you breathe out some tension. If you’re feeling your shoulders rise when breathing, it means your breath is shallow. Shallow breaths are not getting your body all the oxygen it needs. Also, your breath is shallow when we are in a panic mode or frightened. It can lead to hyperventilating. When you’re tense or facing a stressful situation, shallow breathing will make you feel light-headed and nauseous. Long, slow, deep breaths are going to keep you calm and in control. So, when we talk about breathing in any of the following exercises, we mean those long, deep breaths.
These are some exercises you can do in your sleeper or right in your seat. Simple, comfortable, and they should energize, relax, and strengthen your body.
Push-ups. Simple and perfect for drivers. You can do these right in your sleeper. These increase strength, improve posture, and flexibility. Increased flexibility goes a long way to preventing injury.
Planks. Just like push-ups, you can do these in your sleeper. You get into a push-up position, but you’re supporting yourself on your elbows. Your body should be a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. Legs, straight, butt tucked, and stomach pulled in. Hold this for 5 minutes and keep breathing. Release and plank again.
Sit-ups. We all know ‘em, and we all hate ‘em; however, they are great for strengthening your core. A strong core will help your breathing, your balance, and your posture. You can probably knock out a few sets in your sleeper before you have your morning joe.
Exercise right in your seat
Stretching is essential, especially when you’re sitting for the majority of your day. It may seem like the opposite, but, nope, you need to stretch even if you’re just sitting. When you’re sitting and driving, moving 35,000 pounds of vehicle, you can easily be injured if you’re not stretched out properly. You’re doing all the work with your upper body, so you’re in a vulnerable position.
Shoulder stretch. This is an easy way to relieve some tension and stress when you’re stopped at a red light or stopped in traffic. Bring your shoulders up to your ears, old for ten seconds, and then let them drop. At the same time, you’re holding them at your ears, breath. Always keep those nice, deep into your tummy breaths going.
Hand stretches. Gripping the wheel can cause hand tension and cramping, especially when dealing with heavy traffic or car drivers who don’t know what it takes to drive a truck. All that tension can lead to arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Gently roll your wrists around to the left and then the right. Keep the arm still and just work the wrists. Do a few sets before you start driving, and then, during the day, when you’re stopped, roll them some more. Do the same amount on both wrists.
Another; hold your hand out, palm up and bend your fingers gently down and toward your body. Do not push and do not jerk them. Just put a little pressure on the fingers. You should feel the stretch in your hand and your wrist. Keep breathing while you do these stretches. Do both hands and then follow up with some wrist rolls.
A squishy ball. It’s not a bad idea to have a squishy ball with you while you’re in the cab. Sometimes they’re called stress balls. Just a ball you can squeeze will reduce tension in your arms and hands and help release a lot of tension in your body.
Abdominal crunches. These can be done while you’re driving. Squeeze your abdominal muscles and hold them for, say, the length of your favorites song. Unless, of course, your favorite song is Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, which clocks in at about 17 minutes, that may be a bit too long. Aim to squeeze and hold for about 2 minutes at a time. You can do this at every stoplight.
This is a style of yoga that was developed by Lakshmi Voelker-Binder in 1982. She created this style for people who couldn’t do a full yoga routine due to lack of balance or strength. Some of the techniques are easily adaptable to the driver’s seat of a truck.
Chair cat-cow stretch
This one is easy to do in your seat but at a full stop.
Sit with your spine long and straight. Place your hands on your knees.
On an inhale of breath, arch your spine and bring your shoulders down and back. Your sternum will push out. This will also bring your shoulder blades onto your back.
This is cow position.
On the exhale, round your spine and drop your chin to your chest, letting your shoulders and head come forward.
This is cat position.
Continue moving between cow on inhalations and cat on exhalations for a cycle of five breaths at a time.
You may want to move your seat back a bit to give yourself some room on this one. It’s still a short stretch but, you will want a little space between you and the wheel.
Sit straight in the seat, keeping your spine nice and long.
Bring your right ankle up and let it rest on your left thigh, keeping your knee in line with your ankle as much as possible.
Hold this chair pigeon for three to five breaths and then release.
For a deeper stretch, you can lean forward slightly.
Then do the other leg.
When you’ve done all your exercises, you can do this last one. This is a chair savasana. It’s the perfect wrap up to your workouts.
Sit tall in your seat and let your shoulders fall away from your ears; just let gravity do its work.
Sit with your eyes closed and your hands on your lap. Breath deep and easy. Feel your body release and relax.
Do this for about two minutes, open your eyes, and slowly start your drive.
Start or finish your day with these exercises, and you’ll notice a change in your body as well as your mood. Check out a chair yoga site and see if there are more moves you could adapt to your daily work out.
These are all great ways to stay stretched and relaxed throughout your day. When you’re stopped for the night, nothing is better for you than a nice, brisk walk. When you can, get out of the cab, move around, shake your body, and get the blood flowing. When you can’t get out of the cab, now you have some exercises to work with. Stay healthy; we need you on the road.