Trucker Health: Truck Driver Ergonomics

(Part 1 of 2)

Is it surprising that trucking ranks up at the top of OSHA’s list of professions for lost work due to injury?  After all, unless you’re hauling explosives or dragging lumber through the arctic, it seems you should be pretty safe up in your rig during the workday, making sure your cargo gets from point A to point B.

Well, it might disappoint you to hear that our trucking brethren aren’t ranking so high on the injury scale due to danger stunts that end in flaming explosions or due to hauling rabid lions and bears down the freeway. 

It’s a lot simpler than that.  We’re not paying much attention to how we sit, and it turns out your spine needs some love to keep you operating at 100%.

So, let’s go ahead and acknowledge your specific needs: Truck driver ergonomics. 

Ergonomics is a fancy term for the science of equipment design.  That means there are hundreds of scientists and science-lovin’ college students out there specializing in an industry that is focused on making office chairs and truck seats as comfortable and healthy as possible, so we can all keep at the jobs that make the world turn.  Amazing what goes on behind the scenes, isn’t it?

So, before we have you climb into your rig and pull out all your adjustment widgets to get yourself into top-of-the-line trucker health, let’s start with some simple habits to try over the next couple of days.

It’s not going to come completely naturally.  We all know old habits die hard, and nothing gets ingrained quite as deeply as our work habits.  This is gonna take some effort and reminding.  Maybe invest in a stack of post-it notes.


Move Around:

Goodness knows it’s easy to find a comfortable position and stay in it until God or nature forces you to move.  It’s not just the trucking world that’s guilty of it.  Everyone from soccer moms dragging their kids to the Big Game to Mr. Suit-and-Tie at his desk on Wall Street commits this sin.

Maybe you’ll need to set an alarm on your phone to remind you for the first couple of days, but try to vary your position every 30 to 60 minutes.  This is absolutely key to making sure you’re not stressing out the parts of your body where you leave your weight sitting while you’re in comfort-mode.

This applies to your entire posture.  Shift around, move your hands on the steering wheel (and make sure you’re not squeezing it harder than you need to!)


Keep it Straight and Narrow:

Try not to twist your back.  You’re most likely to do this when entering and exiting your truck.  Remind yourself to turn your entire body when you step up and down (especially if you’re carrying something heavy). 


Stay Hydrated:

That’s 8 glasses a day, just like your Mama told you.  Big, bad trucker health habits are pretty similar to the ones you had as a tyke, so keep that water bottle full and knock it back as often as you can.  And no, that Big Gulp full of Dr. Pepper doesn’t count!

This might not seem overly related to how your body fits into your seat, but keep in mind that your body’s mobility and overall health is closely tied to hydration and water input.  You’ll notice flexibility and energy withstanding longer days with all the H20 in your system.

Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into healthy posture while you drive.  Tune in next week for some specific adjustments you can make to your seat and more tips to keep you functioning at top capacity here on the blog.