At one point in America’s history, truckers were considered to be highway white knights and kings of the road. Driving a truck was considered to be an interesting — if not downright romantic — enterprise that paid well.
But the bloom has been off the trucking rose for quite some time. Now, some long-haul truckers are saddled with monthly payments for the big rigs they drive and may find themselves barely breaking even after three weeks on the road away from home and family.
Trucking is definitely not a career for the fainthearted. It’s a job involving long stretches of boredom and too much time to think interspersed with moments of sheer terror. Then, the truckers’ minds and reflexes must be sharp, coordinated and focused solely on the road ahead.
Truckers suffer from common injuries
In addition to the occupational hazards noted above, there are painful maladies that affect far too many of those who drive large, commercial trucks for a living. They may include:
- Bursitis. Inflammation of the bursa sacs that cushion the joints and help muscles move reduces a trucker’s range of motion (ROM) and causes pain.
Tendonitis. Inflammation and sharp pain in the tendons of the shoulders, neck and other joints can result from improper motions like turns and twists.
Arthritis. This condition develops over time — often decades — and can be caused or exacerbated by repetitive motions.
Daily driving activities worsen conditions
There are all kinds of ways that truckers’ daily driving and related duties can cause them additional strain and pain. This is especially true for older truckers, who may already have developed some or all of the aforementioned conditions.
Things like shutting and opening the doors of the cab and semitruck trailer, climbing in and out of the big rig’s cab, and even shifting gears all take a toll on the skeletal and muscle systems.
Then, too, the sedentary nature of a major portion of a truck driver’s duties contributes heavily to a driver’s potential ill health, as does the jarring motion of the semitruck’s cab as it bounces down the highway.
Preventing on-the-job injuries
Truck drivers can take steps to reduce the likelihood of injuries. Small changes like doing stretches before climbing aboard your rig and on breaks can make a difference. So can doing some basic cardio before a trip.
Resistance bands can strengthen shoulder muscles and keep them flexible. Sitting erect and not slouching can decrease back and shoulder pain. If it persists, you might want to try wearing a back brace. Also, don’t forget to lift with your knees and not your vulnerable back muscles.
Dealing with chronic injuries
What truck drivers should realize is that if their injuries and pain are caused all or in part by driving a truck or any trucking-related duties, they may be eligible for free treatment under the North Carolina workers’ compensation program. This is in addition to financial benefits that they may be able to draw for their cumulative on-the-job injuries.