A daily stretching routine can be beneficial to everyone, especially professional drivers.
Stretching can increase flexibility, improve focus, as well as relieve stress, headache, and back pain. Additionally, stretching boosts oxygen levels, increases blood flow, and may help remove metabolic waste from the system.
Throughout their career, many drivers report experiencing pain in their lower back and right hip. This is, in part, due to the spine shifting while pushing the accelerator and brake during driving.
It is important to know, though, that not all back pain is actually caused by the back. Many times, back pain is a referred pain. Referred pain is pain perceived or felt at one location that originates from a different location.
This is a result of interconnecting sensory nerves. Often times the body will feel pain in the weakest muscle group, the back; when, in fact, the larger muscles of the glutes and hamstrings are the source of the problem.
Three basic stretches can help to determine if pain is stemming from the back itself or from other muscles.
Stretch 1: Slowly Lean Forward
First, sitting in an upright position, align the heels of the feet under the knees. Slowly begin to lean forward as far as comfortable. If there is no pain in this action, then it is likely a referred pain originating from elsewhere.
Stretch 2: Hip Flexor Tension
Next, while sitting upright, take the right ankle and lift it to rest on the left knee. This will create a triangle shape with the right leg. Gently push the right knee to the floor. When this position is comfortable, slowly begin to lean forward.
Holding this position for 20-30 seconds will help to release the tension in the glutes and hip flexors. Repeat on the opposite side.
Stretch 3: Touch Your Toes
The final stretch is achieved from a standing position. With feet shoulder width apart and knees locked in a straight position, slowly begin to lean over to place fingertips on toes. Do not allow the knees to bend, which will elongate the hamstrings and release tension.
Not only does this series of stretches help to locate the source of pain, they can help to referred back pain.