It doesn’t take much for a trucker to start feeling the pain and discomforts of being confined to the driver’s seat for hours on end. If your butt ain’t in the seat and your hands on the wheel, you aren’t making money.
But the constant repetitionof of day-in and day-out driving time has a cost — your body. Truck driver or not, long term sitting is tough and the cure is movement. This doesn’t mean you have to find a gym or take up a fitness class; what this means is you have to start making an effort to tackle those aches and pains head-on, and if possible, before they become a real crippling problem.
Truck Driving is one the most challenging of jobs, and Truckers are some of the toughest of people — but, not exempt from the pains that being behind the wheel consistantly can cause. The good news, there are simple things you can do today to help your body tomorrow.
One of the pains which seems harmless at first; can be hand or wrist issues. Keeping both hands on the steering wheel at all times for safety for both you and others on the road is what every good driver knows, however that constant gripping can produce harmful consequences.
Hand Injuries in Trucking
Back pain, for truckers, may be the number one discomfort issue as far as their body, but not far behind is hand pain, wrist pain, and the decline of grip strength.
Many truck drivers suffer from things like:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Repetitive Motion/Strain Syndrome
No matter what you call it, as a driver, when your hands hurt and you begin to feel like you are losing your grip strength, your job just got harder. Loading, unloading, lifting, gripping, strapping, you name it, all require your hands to get the job done.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is when the (median) nerve in the wrist that passes through a small tunnel with our tendons is irritated, often due to compression or inflammation. Symptoms often show up in the thumb, index, and part of the middle finger. This irritation can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness, making your job that much harder. People that struggle with such issues often struggle to grip, write, and even make a fist.
Arthritis in the hands can often occur through osteoarthritis (noninflammatory) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA) both cause pain, irritation, inflammation, and even redness. Those with diets high in processed foods may feel increased symptoms in many cases.
Tendonitis is a common term that many of us may have heard or even thought we had at one time or another. Tendonitis often occurs when there is damage to the tendon. The tendons are what connect the muscles to the bones. Suppose you are struggling with tendonitis and having hand issues, more than likely. It is not an issue in the hand but rather the elbow or shoulder. What you are experiencing is called referred pain, where an injury in another area is affecting another.
Repetitive Strain Syndrome is ubiquitous across all workforces when a person’s job requires the same motion to be performed day in and day out. Computer work, holding a hammer, gripping a steering wheel. Approximately 60% of all work-related injuries are repetitive strain injuries. Some of the symptoms that may occur are pain, swelling, tingling, numbness, stiffness, weakness, or cramping. If your job requires you to do the same thing day in and day out, you may be feeling the pain.
Driving for any length of time can be stressful, and if you are an over the road truck driver.... Traffic jams, detours, and delays, can leave you feeling less than best. These may be out of your control, but when it comes to pain, there are several things you can do to help prevent, reduce and even eliminate that pesky pain in your arm, wrist, or hands.
Tips For Prevention and Care
Stretch Your Hands On The Steering Wheel Every Day - Your hands are already on the wheel; you might as well show them some love. That constant gripping and closed hand position can cause a slew of issues and, more than anything, discomfort in your day-to-day drive. Try these simple hand and wrist stretches to help ease hand pain anytime you are in the driver’s seat.
(Alternate stretching each finger and your thumb on the steering wheel and hold for 10 seconds. And then stretch all four fingers and hold for 10 seconds again. Repeat this one to three times a day to manage pain, stiffness, tightness, and discomfort.)
Try A Padded Steering Wheel Cover - Sensitivity in your hands can leave you struggling to comfortably and confidently take hold of the wheel while driving and even more problematic when it comes time to strap, grip, or pull on parts of your truck or load at any given time. Using a padded steering wheel cover can add a little extra comfort for those long drives gripping the wheel.
Practice Good Ergonomics - Posture really does make perfect. Forward hunching and rounding in your upper back and shoulders can leave you with pain down your arms and into your hands. So find a seat with good ergonomics in mind. The investment upfront could save you hundreds of dollars in post-care down the road.
Then, sit up straight, drop your shoulders down and open your chest. Bring your chin level and slide your head back a bit. Also, be aware of your elbows. Try to relax them down versus turning them out and up. By adjusting your body in the driver’s seat, you can help reduce that pesky pain in your arms and hands.
Use An Ergonomic Wrist Brace or Arm Support Mount - If you have injured your wrist or are struggling with chronic pain in your wrist or hands, a brace or driving support mount may temporarily give you some relief to help aid healing, reduce further reinjury and reduce pain. Make sure it’s comfortable and your fingers and hands have freedom of movement and combine with some simple hand and wrist stretches, and you may be feeling better in no time.
Drink Plenty Of Water - Dehydration causes a laundry list of problems in our body. Our muscles rely on adequate water intake to function correctly. Even just two hours of living in dehydration can impair muscle function and also affect our nervous system. Cartilage, found in joints and the disks of the spine, contains around 80 percent water. Long-term dehydration can reduce the joints’ shock-absorbing ability, leading to joint pain, and remember, some of those joints are found in your hands. Water intake can be a challenge for some drivers; Try to get just one more bottle (16 ounces) of water in a day and work your way up to a minimum of 64 ounces.
Use Capsaicin - Capsaicin is an active ingredient in chili peppers that makes them hot. Capsaicin, when used in topical pain creams, can help the user manage pain. There have been studies on several occasions; it helps reduce pain, inflammation, and blood flow in users; and it has also been found to help block sensory nerve pain. You can find it in STIFF Mother Trucker pain relief cream as one of their six active ingredients to help you find relief fast!
The number one thing you should get a hold of today is the next best thing you can do to help your body feel better wherever you are. Decide which quick tip you can add into your life and keep at it until it becomes automatic. Sometimes we find ourselves in pain and there isn’t much we could have done to prevent it. But if you are having hand or wrist pain from your job now you have six simple tips to try, so you can find relief fast, and get back to doing what you love in the best health possible.