Truck News


Back Behind the Wheel: Relax – Give It a Try!

Winter is definitely here. The snow, sleet and ice can add stress to your already stressful job. Driving professionally is difficult, and at times it may seem that Mother Nature is against you day in ...

Winter is definitely here. The snow, sleet and ice can add stress to your already stressful job. Driving professionally is difficult, and at times it may seem that Mother Nature is against you day in and day out, making driving conditions both treacherous and dangerous.

Being relaxed at the wheel will help you avoid the neck, back and shoulder pain which plague many drivers in the winter months. Not only is the pain annoying, it can also indirectly affect your level of concentration on the road.

So here are a few relaxation techniques that can help you limit the amount of aches/pains in your body.

Imagery is a common relaxation technique that is easy to use and very effective.

Imagery allows you to create a relaxing environment in your mind to induce a state of well-being and calmness.

The next time you are at the border and have a couple of minutes or hours to spare, close your eyes and slowly breathe in and out. Imagine yourself somewhere you enjoy being and where you can relax.

This could be at the beach, the cottage, on the golf course or wherever you feel most at peace.

For example, imagine yourself walking along a beautiful beach. Feel the sand in your toes, the sun on your skin, hear the ocean waves and smell the salty air. When visualizing, it is important to use all your senses (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch). The more you can “feel” the experience the more relaxed you will become.

Stretching is also a very good way to relax. A good stretching program will relieve the tension in your muscles, decreasing muscle spasms and pain.

Stretching on a daily basis will also increase your flexibility minimizing your risk of injury.

Try to stretch twice a day, in the morning and the afternoon. It is important that your muscles are warmed up before you begin your stretches.

In the morning after breakfast or a shower, it is a good time to stretch, not before. Stretching muscles that are stiff (cold) will increase your chances of injuring them.

There are 101 muscles you can stretch. The four areas to concentrate on are the neck, low back and leg muscles. Start off by stretching your neck. Bend you head to the side and try and touch your ear to your shoulder. You should feel the stretch on the opposite side off neck.

Remember to bend your head slowly and gently. If you feel pain, ease up a bit and try it again.

Stretching your lower back is easy. At night lie on the floor or your bed and bring your knees to your chest. Can you feel the stretch in the lumbar spine (lower back)?

Next, stretch your hamstrings (back of leg) and quadriceps (thigh) muscles. These muscles are very important because they can affect your lower back.

To stretch your hamstrings, put your leg up on a stair or a ledge. Keep your leg straight and gently bend forward if you can.

For most of us, just having our leg straight is a good stretch. To stretch the thigh muscles stand up straight and pull your leg to your butt.

Remember to hold all stretches for 20 seconds.

Also remember to do you stretches slowly and gently, make sure your muscles are warmed up and do each stretch three times per side, twice a day.

Try to incorporate this stretching program into your daily routine.

Another relaxation technique uses multiple isometric muscle contractions.

An isometric muscle contraction results when a muscle contracts, but there is no change in the muscles length (no movement is seen). Pushing against a wall is a good example of this type of muscle contraction.

Start off by getting into a comfortable position.

Take a couple of deep breaths and slowly make a fist in both hands.

Squeeze as hard as you can for eight seconds and then slowly relax your muscles. Concentrate on relaxing your muscles and feel the tension leaving your body. After you have done it once, repeat it two more times.

Exercising is probably one of the best ways to relax. A 20-minute walk or run every day is sufficient.

Not only will you feel better but it will also improve your overall general health and well-being.

Relaxing is difficult to do, especially in the trucking industry. Your job is time sensitive (has to be there by…) and everyone wants his or her freight yesterday.

Try to incorporate some of these relaxation techniques into your daily routine and watch some of your aches and pains disappear.

Until next month, drive safely and all the best in 2004!

– Dr. Jerry Singh, B. Kin., D.C., runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont. He can be reached at 888-252-7327, or

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