All year round, truckers and road travelers drive for miles, their bodies in one position.
“How does driving for long periods of time effect my body?”
Let’s take a look at the body mechanics of a driver of an automatic vehicle:
1) In order to grab the wheel, the body is forced to bring the shoulders forward.
2) Our upper arms tense to keep our arms upright.
3) Keyboard hands appear to keep a good grip on the wheel. This, in turn, forces our forearms to tighten.
4) Due to some odd car seats, the hips may form an vertical rotation.
5) Because of the forward shoulders and the forward hips, this over stretches the back both upwards and downwards.
6) Our right foot does most of the work until cruise control (if the car has it) takes over. So, we’re stretching out our right leg, leaving our left leg to be in a comfortable position.
7) Due to the right/ left leg activity difference, this causes our hips to do another one-sided tilt.
This keeps the body in a sit still position, sometimes for hours.
If the car is of manual transmission:
8) The left arm is forced to tighten to control the wheel, while the right shoulder slackens to allow the right arm to maneuver the stick shift.
9) Meanwhile, at the same time, the left leg comes forward to push up and down on the clutch. Then the right leg also manipulates the accelerator between shifts.
Personal Note: It’s almost better to have a stick shift car or truck. More movement is required.
“How do I help myself while travelling?”
Stretching is your best friend. Here are a few stretches:
Forward shoulder stretch
Hamstring and calf stretch
Forearm stretches (for a video of this stretch, take a look at my Keyboard Hands post)
There are also low back supports and carseat heating devices that might also help. When you have a break in your travels, I highly recommend seeing a Massage Therapist and/or Chiropractor.
Personal note: Trust me, you need it!