Although sitting behind the wheel all day does give you the opportunity to admire long stretches of stunning landscapes, it doesn’t really allow you to get in any stretches of your own. But being in the same position for extended periods of time can be bad for both your muscles and your posture, so it’s important that you stretch out after your long haul. Fortunately, trainer John Pimenidis of the Beechmont Racquet and Fitness Club was willing to suggest a couple of stretches that’ll help truck drivers loosen up tense areas if they do them once per day.
1. Stretch those pecs (left). As John pointed out, drivers can often have tight pecs because of the time spent curled over the wheel. Doing the stretch shown above can help open up your chest and improve posture. Simply form a 90 degree, upward-facing angle with your arm, and place that palm against the side of your truck. Step forward with the same leg and press into the truck with your hand. You should feel the stretch in your chest and should try to hold it for 20-30 seconds. Don’t forget to switch to the other side, too!
2. Loosen those lats (middle). Speaking of opening up your chest, this is another exercise that will do just that. Bend forward until your upper body is perpendicular with your legs, and then reach your arms out in front of you and grab onto a part of your truck that’s at about hip length. Hold for about 20 seconds.
3. Lunge it out (right). This one is for your hip flexors, which, you guessed it, get tight from too much sitting. Start by placing your hands on your hips like you’re going to angrily chastise someone for not getting you unloaded in a timely manner. Then, step forward with one leg, bending the knee but not quite descending into a full lunge. Extend your back leg far enough behind you so that it is completely straight, and make sure your shoulders are back so your upper body’s posture is as upright as possible (but it’s important that you don’t arch your back). Then, press your weight onto the front leg. You should feel the stretch along the upper thigh of your straight leg. Make sure you do this for both sides and that you’re holding each side for about 20-30 seconds.
4. Don’t neglect the calves (left). John informed us that tight calves can cause pain all the way up to the lower back, so it’s definitely an area you want to address. Place one foot against your tire so that it’s at a 45 degree angle, brace yourself against the truck, and lean your weight into that foot just until you feel the stretch in your calf. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
The prospect of frequent stretching might seem daunting at first, whether it’s because you don’t want to be seen stretching at the truck stop or because you don’t think you’ll have time for it, but it’s worth it to help minimize those aches and pains that come with the job.
John Pimenidis (pictured) is a trainer at the Beechmont Racquet and Fitness Club, which is located in Cincinnati, Ohio. He got his Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education from Mount Saint Joseph University and works with people with a variety of fitness needs.