As a professional truck driver, safe operation of your vehicle goes par and parcel with your comfort and health. If you aren’t comfortable in the cab or can’t stay awake on the road, how will you expect to be able to safely operate your heavy-duty commercial motor vehicle?
As you take care of your truck, so you must take care of yourself. One aspect of taking care of yourself involves your back, and we are going to look closer at your back today.
The goal will be to provide you with information on proper back care. This will help reduce the risk of injury or inflammation and keep you just as limber as ever to carry out the various job functions of a truck driver.
An Intro to Body Mechanics
You’ve heard of vehicle mechanics, but it’s time for a primer on body mechanics. Body mechanics comes into play because everything we do affects our back, yet the back isn’t the most resilient part of our body.
How many times a day throughout the course of your job do you lift, push, pull, stretch or put some other kind of strain on your back? Likely, more than a few.
Body mechanics refers to the proper way of moving and positioning the body for certain activities. The movements themselves are designed to help prevent injury or strain.
The natural position of your back is in an “S” curve. The medical term for this position is the neutral position.
To keep your posture straight, you need to maintain a line through that “S” curve, from the middle of the ears through the shoulders, middle of the hips, knees and down to the ankles. There should be in invisible straight line running through each.
Whether you are sitting, standing, sleeping, pushing or pulling, your back must always remain in the neutral position.
Sitting is a Problem
The problem is that most of us spend the majority of our day sitting. When we sit, we increase the amount of weight placed on our spine. Remember, we are upright animals, so sitting does major damage to our posture and overall health of our spine.
Slouching puts even more pressure on the spine. Obviously, sitting in a cab or back office all day poses problems for both our posture and our spine.
So, what’s a person to do? Always try your hardest to maintain a neutral position, whether you are in a cab or sitting in an office chair.
If you can, try to move frequently, whether you call these microbreaks or if it’s just for a moment at the rest stop.
Do you work in the company storage room or warehouse? Likely if you are a truck driver, you have to move objects about within a loading dock area or within the warehouse itself.
The Keys to Proper Lifting
When moving heavy objects, remember to lift with your legs and avoid reaching above you or bending over. Always lift in the zone between your shoulders and waist.
Keep in mind that pushing an object is always better for your back than pulling it. Avoid common lifting mistakes like using fast, jerky motions and bending forward at the waist with your legs straight.
Also keep in mind that our bodies do not change when we go home from work. Keep these same principles in mind as you make the transition from the cab to the sofa. Whether you are sleeping or sitting, be kind to your back.
In the end, you cannot always avoid lifting or put yourself in position for prime back health. Still, if you know your body’s limitations and use good body mechanics, you can keep back injury at bay.