There is no doubt that thanks to Truckmate many of you truckers know your way around a road as you’re having to traverse around the UK and other countries to deliver heavy cargo while contending with other motorists, complex road systems and dangerous weather conditions. But this dedication to your job can often result in you sacrificing your own well-being, which can have a detrimental effect on your health. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together some top tips to stay safe and healthy while on the road.
Take care of yourself
We are all likely to suffer from back pain at some stage in our lives and the nature of truck driving can increase the likelihood of problems occurring, but rest assured there are ways to mitigate the risks. Michael Core from Össur Webshop, an injury management specialist, suggests that it is important to make sure your cab is setup correctly and that you take care of yourself during those down times:
“Check your seat height, the degree of recline and your distance from the steering wheel, pedals and gear stick. If you’re not comfortable, whether you’re too close or too far away, then change it, as three hours down the line, it may start to cause a problem. You should also check your mirrors and make sure you can see everything without straining your neck as anyone who has pulled a muscle in their neck will tell you that it’s hard to check your blind spot.
“Once you’ve made sure your cab is set up correctly, you have to look after yourself when you’re not driving. Firstly, don’t jump out of the cab when you come to a stop as you might be a little stiff and a sudden burst of movement could be a problem. You should take it easy and stretch, taking the time to work on key muscle groups in your legs, lower back, shoulders, neck and arms. We’re not talking a warm up like you see on a fitness video but a few static stretches to get the muscles moving before you head off for a well-earned rest.”
Don’t be tempted by bad habits
Pickfords, the UK’s largest moving and storage company, understands that there might be temptations while on the road but suggest it’s important to resist them for your health:
“While fast food is readily available on the road and always affordable, it should only ever be the last resort, as it can negatively affect your energy levels. Whenever possible, make your stops somewhere you know there’s going to be healthier options available.
“Furthermore, while driving long distances can be boring, you should avoid smoking to fill in the time, as the negative health effects of cigarettes have been well documented. If you currently smoke, try and wean yourself off the habit by drinking lots of water instead - this will not only keep you hydrated but also make you need more bathroom stops, which will give you more chances to stretch your legs.”
Don’t ignore the small things
Giving in to fast food and smoking can result in suffering heartburn repeatedly, and according to Mr Nick Boyle, a specialist reflux consultant surgeon, ignoring this can have serious consequences on your health:
“Research shows that only 1 in 2 men would visit their GP if they experienced heartburn for most days over three weeks or more and instead rely on over-the-counter medication to relieve the symptoms. However, heartburn that is experienced regularly must be taken seriously otherwise it could lead to serious health issues.
“Driving a truck is a physically demanding job and involves many hours sat in one position. I realise that when you’re on the road for a long time comforting fast food can be tempting but these are likely to worsen your heartburn. Fatty, acidic and spicy foods can be an irritant and trigger heartburn and/or acid reflux symptoms and nicotine in cigarette smoke relaxes the esophageal valve, which is designed to keep the contents of the stomach in, many truckers will experience heartburn regularly and over many years.
“If this is you, then you should start by trying to notice your triggers. Try cutting out offending foods and reintroducing them slowly to see if they have a direct effect on your symptoms. Filling the stomach will increase pressure and can trigger reflux and acid from the stomach into the oesophagus and throat - this creates the burning sensation. Other things to consider include eating smaller meals and chewing slowly, not eating before bed and if you’re overweight, changing your diet and trying to lose weight. Lastly, don’t drink too much alcohol, especially accompanying a heavy meal. This too can cause heartburn and hangovers which can affect your general health and well-being.
“If you suspect you are suffering from chronic heartburn and acid reflux, please ask your doctor about treatment options, including the LINX Management System, which is available in various NHS Trusts across the country.”
Caffeine isn’t always the answer
Traversing roads that look similar can often get very boring and if you’re feeling low on energy, this can add to your lethargy, which can have disastrous results if you were to be involved in an accident. For many truckers, this means turning to coffee, energy drinks and other fizzy drinks for a caffeine fix; however, Bloom suggests that a super-tea alternative may be a better option:
“Opting for a healthy solution like matcha, which is a very special powdered green tea originating from Japan, is a natural way to increase your energy levels without the negative effects of other caffeine-based drinks, such as spikes in blood pressure. As well as boosting your energy, powdered tea can also help with other problems faced by truckers including improving concentration, promoting calmness and helping to curb sugar cravings, which helps keep your waistline in check.”