Musculoskeletal injuries are more common among truckers than in any other group in the nation except those suffering from brittle bones and other extenuating conditions. Sitting in a cab hour after hour for days at a time can take a toll on a trucker’s body. Musculoskeletal injuries are the number one cause of loss of income in the trucking industry. Luckily, researchers have identified the groups that are most at risk from studying over 28,000 truckers over a period of 3 years. Only 10% of the drivers were involved in loading and unloading freight.
It was found that drivers above or below average height were at risk for musculoskeletal injuries. Tall drivers who had trouble fitting into the cab space and shorter drivers who experience difficulty reaching the pedals were particularly susceptible. Modifying the cab can help drivers who are challenged by their height. Manufacturers are working on making seats more adjustable so that the cab is comfortable, no matter the height of the driver.
Gender also matters, although only 8% of the drivers studied were women. It was found that, like the drivers that were below average height, women often strained their bodies operating trucks that were designed for bigger people.
The age of the truckers did not seem to significantly affect the incidents of musculoskeletal injuries, although older drivers did experience general discomfort due to arthritis or other age-related complaints.
The highest risk factor of suffering musculoskeletal injuries was the weight and the BMI (body mass index) of the truckers studied. Drivers who were significantly overweight or obese have a higher rate of discomfort and were twice as likely to suffer muscle strain, sprains or fractures than drivers of normal weight. That group also showed a higher incidence of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
Luckily, truckers are making a conscious effort to stay in shape, lose excess weight and eat healthier food. These days you are more likely to find a trucker snacking on nuts or fruits than on chips and candy bars. Truck stop restaurants are beginning to serve healthier choices because drivers have asked for them, and salad bars are sprouting up where desserts were once displayed.
You can reduce your chance of musculoskeletal injuries by making sure your seat is comfortable and by using a pillow if you need support for your back. Take the time to stretch during stops to keep your muscles limber and park in such a way that you can get in a good walk to your destination. Get plenty of calcium and take a high quality multi-vitamin made specifically for your age group and gender. These simple steps will reduce your chances of getting sidelined with injuries.