Truck drivers frequently suffer from common injuries due to the long hours spent behind the wheel. Unnatural posture often results from prolonged periods of sitting, and as a result, truckers are highly susceptible to low-back, knee, leg, and foot pain.
The truck driver exercises in this article are vital to stabilizing the muscles that often cause truck drivers pain and discomfort while on the job. Use individual exercises as necessary to stabilize and strengthen the specific areas you have problems with, or combine multiple exercises for the ultimate trucker workout!
What is Gas Pedal Knee?
Truckers regularly report having knee pain from driving, which is most commonly caused by damage to the connective tissue at the knee joint. Issues are often caused by patellar tendonitis, also known as jumper’s knee or gas pedal knee, resulting from prolonged periods of pushing on the gas and/or brake pedal. The following exercises could help you avoid leg pain from driving:
Straight Leg Raise - Adduction: Lie on your side with your bottom leg straight and your top leg bent in front, placing your foot flat on the ground. Slowly lift your bottom leg up, keeping it straight, and hold the raised position for 2-3 seconds before slowly returning to the initial position. Complete 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions for each leg.
Standing Hamstring Curl: Standing on two feet shoulder width apart, lift one foot up by bending your knee and rising your heel towards the ceiling while keeping your toes anchored and the rest of your body still with good posture. Hold your leg at a fully flexed position as far as your range of motion will allow for 3-5 seconds before lowering your leg to the starting position and repeating the movement with your opposite leg. Do 3-4 sets of 12-15 repetitions for each leg.
Glute Bridge: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground in alignment with your hips. Firmly pressing your shoulder blades into the floor, slowly raise your hips and squeeze your glute muscles and hold that position for 2-3 seconds. Maintain a flat back throughout the movement; do not allow your low back to arch. Perform 2-3 sets for 10-12 repetitions.
Tips to avoid Foot Pain
Foot pain from driving is another persistent injury found among professionals working in the trucking industry. Luckily, exercise programs can address these issues by developing the musculoskeletal system, which directly influences a persons’ potential risk of injury. These exercises could help if you’re experiencing gas pedal foot pain:
Plantar Fascia Stretch: Standing with both hands against the wall, place one foot forward towards the wall with the other slightly behind. Keeping your heel firmly planted on the floor, lift your toes and press against the wall while pushing your body toward the wall. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds for each leg for 3-4 sets.
Toe Spreads: Sit on a chair with both feet firmly planted on the ground. Next, spread your toes as far apart as your range of motion allows and hold that position for 15-20 seconds before relaxing the foot. Then, repeat this stretch 3-4 times.
Marble pickup: Sit on a chair with both feet flat on the ground. Place two bowls in front of you: one empty and the other full of 15-20 marbles. Using only the toes of one foot, pick up each marble and drop it in the other bowl. Then, using the other foot, move the marbles back into the original bowl. Repeat this process 2-3 times.
The National Academy of Sports Medicine found that nearly 80% of all adults have been affected by low-back pain at some point in their life. This percentage is likely even higher among trucker drivers because one of the greatest predictors of low-back pain is sitting for periods of time greater than three hours. Try these exercises and watch the linked video demonstrations if needed:
Partial Crunch - Lie down on your back, placing your feet flat on the ground with your knees bent and your hands under your low back. Slowly raise your head and shoulders until you can feel your core muscles contract, then hold that position for one second before slowly returning your head and shoulders to the floor. Be sure not to move your hips, like a sit-up motion, to keep from putting your low-back in a comprising position. Perform 10-15 repetitions for 3-4 sets.
Wall-Sits: Lean your back against a wall and slide into a squat position. Make sure your back is flat against the wall and your knees are at a 90-degree angle, so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Press your back flat against the wall to assist your legs in maintaining proper posture. Perform 2 sets holding this position for as long as you can without sacrificing posture.
Bird Dog: While on your hands and knees, make sure that your back is flat and parallel to the ground. It is important that your back is both flat and parallel to the ground the entire time while performing this movement. Remove two opposing balance points at the same time by reaching back with your left leg and reaching out with your right arm. Then return to your starting position, and complete the same motion with your right leg and your left arm. Complete 8-12 repetitions for 2-3 sets.
These are some of the best exercises for truck drivers to avoid pain while driving. Use these movements and stretches during your rest period to feel more comfortable during long distance travel and to strengthen your low-back, knees, and feet.
It is important to remember this article is not medical advice or a treatment plan. This content is for general education and demonstration purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always consult your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.