What’s the last thing you want to do on the job? Exercise. Driving is hard work. It’s hard on the eyes, leaves you tired and mentally fatigued, and makes you feel cramped and tight as you sit in one position for a long time. Although it’s not easy to keep up a workout routine while long-haul trucking, there are a few easy things you can do to get that OTR body in better shape.
1. Take a walk. It’s that simple. Any time you can take off the clock to stretch your legs, you’ll be happy you did. Even 5 minutes circling the parking lot will do. You need to get your blood flowing and your legs working for a little while.
2. Shoulder and chest stretches: Sitting for a long time in the driver’s seat hunches your shoulders and tightens your chest muscles. To do this stretch, put your arms straight out behind your back and bring your hands together. Now lift your arms as far upwards as you can while keeping your elbows straight.
3. Hip stretch: Another thing that gets way too tight if you sit for a long time is the front of your hips, called your hip flexors. To do this stretch, step forward in one big step, keeping one leg behind and the other in front with your back straight up. Bend both knees until your back knee is close to the ground. If your step is wide enough, you should feel a pull in the high front part of your back leg.
4. Neck stretch: We all know this one. Roll your neck to one side and then the other slowly, letting it settle toward one shoulder and then the other. This is a good time to note that “Ballistic Stretching,” which is hard, quick motions to push your muscles to their stretchiest point and then let them spring back, is not good. Better to go slow and let the muscles ease out of tightness over 30 seconds or more.
5. Core stretch: These two stretches will help get that satisfying spine pop and make you feel looser and lighter. Abs stretch – lay on your stomach and raise your shoulders and chest off floor, using your arms to push up until your back is arched with your hips on floor and shoulders/head facing forward. You should feel your abdominal muscles with this stretch. Back stretch – sit on floor with your legs straight in front, pull up one knee to your chest and cross your foot over other leg. Now twist your torso in the direction of the pulled-up leg, using the opposite elbow against your raised knee as leverage.
6. Now for some strengthening exercises. These will work some of the muscles that don’t get much use when you sit: your core and your butt. That’s right, your backside needs some strengthening! Bench exercise – sit on a bench or chair, stand up, repeat. This simple motion will engage all your leg muscles, including the two round ones at the top. To be sure you’re working everything, go up on your toes and squeeze those cheeks as you stand.
7. Finally, another simple exercise to help strengthen your core – the plank. Get down into a push-up position with your back straight, facing down. You can rest on your hands or elbows and feet or knees. Hold this tight, straight body position and count to 30. You can set your goal for longer as you improve.
If you find these stretches and exercises working for you, good! Keep going and building a routine. If you are in the habit of taking care of the parts of your body that naturally get neglected on the road, you’ll feel so much better once you’re off it.
This exercise advice was provided by Stephanie Ball, a physical trainer and nutritionist in Kansas City. For more questions related to these stretches and exercises, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.