If you are a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) driver, chances are you have been on the road for a while. More often than not, your job involves driving for many hours, which has the potential to take a toll on your health. Did you know that driving is not just the most common cause of lower back pain, but it can also aggravate existing back pain? That’s because while you’re on the road for extended periods, your spine loses the natural lumbar curve, putting strain on the muscles, vertebrae and discs on the lower back. Ultimately, this causes pain, which can be aggravated by driving in cramped situations and on uneven surfaces.
So, if you will be on the road this summer, we have listed down some tips that should help save your spine and prevent cases of back pain.
Ensure You’re Comfortable Even Before You Light the Engine
Before you start your vehicle for the next trip, it’s smart to ensure that you’re completely comfortable- as you will be sitting in this position for a while. Even the smallest irritant at the start of your journey can transform into a ranging pain several hours down the line. So, get rid of them from the start.
Empty your pockets, particularly the back ones. Things like keys, phones, and wallets have the potential to throw your spine out of alignment by a few degrees, which makes a world of a difference. Ensure you are sitting straight, with the knees a bit higher than the hips and the chin pulled up so that the head stays straight on top of your spine.
Also, ensure the spine is in full contact with the seat. For most drivers, this implies adding additional support to the seat, usually around the lumbar section. Once you’re comfortable, try to stay in this position for the majority of your trip. It may call for some experimentation to find the right position, but it is worth trying for the sake of your spine and lower back.
Ease Your Grip
It is not just back pain that crops up during long HGV drives. Neck and shoulder pain is another common complaint of heavy goods vehicle drivers. This is usually due to tensing on the shoulders and neck, and even gripping the steering wheel too tightly, resulting in prolonged muscle tension.
Take Breaks on the Regular
Another key principle for surviving long drives is to take breaks and this is no exception when driving your HGV driver training. The spine may be a single long strand, but it’s designed to move. Staying in one position for extended periods will stiffen the spine, which in turn results in the back muscles aching and sometimes spasming in order to protect the spine. So, if possible, plan on taking regular breaks during your journey, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Get out of the vehicle and take a walk around and stretch a bit. This movement will help keep the spine loose and relax those tensing muscles. Avoid strenuous exercise or bending as the back tends to be weaker after extended periods of inactivity. It’s also more prone to injury.
With these tips, you should be able to protect your spine as you go about your job.