7 Easy Stretches for Lower Back Pain Relief

Maintaining a healthy back is one of your top priorities for enjoying a long, rewarding career as a truck driver.

Prolonged sitting, poor posture and improper lifting can lead to low back pain as you drive your big rig down the highway. According to a study in Public Health, professional drivers in general face a higher risk of low back pain, including 52% of truck drivers worldwide. Other risk factors include age, a history of lumbar injuries and driving time between breaks. 

Besides low back aches, common symptoms among drivers include sore shoulders, neck pain, stiff lumbar muscles and difficulty moving around. The good news is you can relieve your symptoms and stay in shape with a few simple stretches. We’ll also share healthy habits when driving to keep you comfortable on the road. 

7 Stretches for Back Pain Relief

Most folks already know the importance of exercise for staying in shape, controlling your weight and even boosting your brain power. You can keep your body fit with as little as 15 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days each week. 

You should also make stretching a part of your daily routine to ease back tension and keep your muscles relaxed. Slip in a few stretches before you hit the road and during breaks. 

To get you in the swing of things, here are seven easy stretches to help with lower back pain, courtesy of the Mayo Clinic.

1: Knee-to-Chest Stretch 

Complete two to three reps in the morning and evening if possible. 

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Pull one knee up and use your hands to press in toward your chest.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles and gently hold for five seconds.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg.
  • Finally, pull both legs toward your chest together.

2: Lower Back Rotational Stretch

Complete two to three reps in the morning and evening if possible.

  • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Keep shoulders firmly on the floor. Slowly roll your bent knees to one side.
  • Hold for five to 10 seconds.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side. 

3: Lower Back Lift

Begin with five reps per day and slowly increase to 30.

  • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles so that your lower back lifts up off of the floor.
  • Hold for five seconds, then relax.
  • Flatten your back against the floor.
  • Hold for five seconds, then relax.

4: Bridge Exercise

Begin with five reps per day and slowly work up to 30.

  • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Keep your shoulders and head relaxed.
  • Tighten the muscles in your abdomen and buttocks.
  • Raise your hips to form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
  • Hold this position and take three deep breaths.
  • Return to the starting position.

5: Cat Stretch

Do three to five reps per day.

  • Kneel on your hands and knees facing the floor.
  • Slowly arch your back, bringing your belly button toward the ceiling and lowering your head.
  • Slowly let your belly sag toward the floor and lift your head.
  • Return to the starting position.

6: Seated Lower Back Rotational Stretch

Complete three to five reps twice a day.

  • Sit on an armless chair or stool if you’re at home or at one of Prime’s terminals. In your truck, you can sit on the edge of your lower bunk.
  • Cross your right leg over your left.
  • Brace your left elbow against the outside of your right knee.
  • Gently twist to the side.
  • Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

7: Shoulder Blade Squeeze

Complete three to five reps twice a day.

  • Sit on an armless chair or stool if you can find one at home, one of Prime’s terminals or a truck stop. To complete this exercise, you can also sit in the driver’s seat (while safely parked) or on your bed inside the cab. 
  • Gently pull your shoulder blades together.
  • Hold for five seconds, then relax. 

Other Tips to Relieve Tension in Your Lower Back

On top of your exercise routine, a few simple habits can help you stay comfortable while driving. That way, you can focus on the road instead of on an aching back!

  • Change positions: Good posture is essential for staying comfortable in the driver’s seat. Adjust the seat so that you can easily reach the steering wheel without stretching or hunching over. Your back, neck and head should all feel completely relaxed. 
  • Adjust mirrors: You should be able to see clearly in your mirrors without leaning forward or back. This reduces strain on your core and back muscles. 
  • Invest in a seat cushion: Choose a model with good ergonomics for proper head, neck and back support. A well-designed cushion will improve your posture, keep you comfortable and relieve soreness. Add a lumbar support pillow if you’re dealing with sciatica pain. 
  • Take breaks: Rest stops are a great time to go for a short walk and perform your stretching exercises. This will ease muscle tension and reduce back strain. 
  • Empty your pockets: Believe it or not, having your pockets full while seated in your cab may affect your posture. Take out your wallet, phone and other small items from your pockets and store them in a safe place while driving. 
  • Practice proper lifting: Use your arms and legs and avoid bending at the waist when lifting objects off the floor. If you’ve been seated for a long time, warm up before you lift. Go for a light jog and do some gentle stretches to loosen up your muscles.

Finally, be sure to carry ice or heat packs, over-the-counter pain medications and anti-inflammatory remedies in case your back gets sore while you’re on the road. 

Prime Is Your Partner for Staying Healthy on the Road

Check with your doctor if you have back pain that doesn’t get better with routine care and exercise. As a Prime driver, you can also visit Dr. Popa at the Happy Spine Chiropractic inside our Springfield, MO terminal for help with a range of issues.

You can learn more about spine health from Dr. Popa’s episode of our Healthier Highway podcast, which is part of Driver Health & Fitness. DHF is Prime’s way of providing resources and tools to help drivers live healthier lives on the road and at home.

And if you’re interested in driving for Prime, you can learn more by calling 866-290-1568 or simply apply online at any time!

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