Updated in 2018
The effects of trucking on the body may not always be so obvious. In fact, I have only gotten confirmation from my doctors about one problem caused by trucking to their direct knowledge. Back problems.
Trucking may not
be for you if you experience lower back pain or already have lower back, spinal injury or herniated discs. I have talked to other drivers that have said trucking caused
them back injury. I think it's avoidable for most people.
I have not personally had any back problems. I remember having a sore right knee from the clutch for a few months when first starting.
I don't know about trucking in particular.
I can tell you though, that many back problems often comes from having weak abdomen muscles. If you strengthen your core muscles, I don't think you will have back problems. However, I'm not a doctor.
The first 3 issues are not the most likely to be told to you by a regular Doctor. Maybe by 2020 they will relay this information. But what do I know.... In any case, don't be so quick to get meds or operation for lower back pain. Get second and 3rd opinions and visit a chiropractic before major surgery for lower back pain.
More attention has been given to the health of truckers recently. One study of 1,670 long distance drivers in the 48 contiguous states by survey revealed these stats. The Study
Folks, if you haven't already figured out, these issues are not caused directly by trucking. They are caused by poor choices to a great degree. I will admit that trucking makes it easy to make poor choices. Nonetheless, choices are the culprit not trucking.
Prolonged sitting and Sleep deprivation are the only ones that you don't have total control over, and you can do something about that in most cases.
By the nature of our jobs, we sit for hours at a time. This is not good for your veins, muscles or your overall health. I read a book called GET UP! Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About it. I never knew that prolonged sitting has such a significant negative effect on the body and it is because we were not designed to sit still for extended periods of time.
To summarize it all, I will put it this way. Prolonged sitting shortens your life span because it increases your chances of death from the same diseases we mentioned associated with trucking plus heart disease.
So make yourself stop every 2 or 3 hours to stand up and walk for a few steps and you at least take away some of that sedentary lifestyle from trucking. (It's one of my biggest challenges now that my dog has died.
Get the sleep required for your body. Most people need between 6-9 hours. ELD should have solved a lot of the sleep deprivation due to manipulation from dispatchers. With time management or switching dispatcher/jobs if necessary if you are still having problems you should be able to address them.
However, some drivers don't get rest because they stay up playing games, watching TV or surfing the web. That's not trucking's fault.
have noticed some knee discomfort from time to time in the past but it never lasted.
It came and went and was tolerable not debilitating or painful.
I always wondered about the long
term effects that I can expect from this though.
(Update: I wrote this about 2009. I stopped driving in 2011. No knee or back problem then or now. It is Jan 2017.
2nd Update: I am driving part-time February. No knee or back pain.
3rd Update: It's June 2018. In March 2017 I started trucking OTR full time again and to this date no adverse health conditions from trucking.
I have asked doctors about the effects of trucking on the body and they always say they don't know of any except for the back problem in a few drivers.
Of course trucking is blamed for gaining weight. I talk about that weight gaining myth here.
I have seen proof of the power of this vibration over and over. Things that I had stored away thinking they were safe have been worned dramatically by some other object it was touching. The vibration from driving will ruin it.
If cds are stacked against each other they will be ruin. The boxes in the back of the trailer all have a fine dust on them by the time I reach my destination from the vibration. I figured that this must have some type of effect on the body.
If you have watched any of my videos where the camera is pointed straight ahead through the front window you probably can tell how much continuous vibration is experienced over damaged roadway. (That can be seen in the older videos. I started in 2008. In more recent videos, there is no vibration due to technology. Also, I had an older truck as an owner operator.)
The joints, connecting tissues, blood circulation, etc. (I have always wondered about the impact of the vibration on the organs in the body) But . . .I have asked doctors about the effects of this vibration on the body and they act like its a ridiculous notion and not to worry about it. (which I don't) Seems illogical to me though that the body wouldn't suffer some deterioration.
(Update: Good news. 2018 Checkup 2 months ago and not issues at doctor.
Update 2017: I am happy to say, no issue with organs, lol. More than 20 years from when I started driving. However, keep in mind that I did what I could to stay in decent shape and also I took breaks from driving. (not 20 years consecutive driving. Maybe 15 with some time off in between)
DO NOT drive a truck that has exhaust leak coming into the cab. Make them have it fixed. APU can also have exhaust coming into the cab. Don't tolerate it. I have had both of these problems. The APU was on a company truck and the exhaust leak was on my own truck.
There has been a recent Harvard University study done of 54,000 teamsters members that shows drivers had a 49% increase in heart disease related deaths and a 10% increase in lung cancer deaths.Dock workers had a 32% increase in heart diseases related death and a 10% increase in lung cancer related death.
The teamsters members were compared to the US Population of the same age group. The individual activities and habits were not taken into account.Also the overall death rate of the same group which means death by any reason was actually lower than the general population of the same age group.
So you get what you can out of that or check out the study yourself. It will open in a new window.
Update: While not related directly to trucking. Studies have been done on schools near the highway. They show that the children suffer a very high occurrence of asthma due to the pollution from traffic. To me that is also an indication of what a person who drives for a living might experience. Except if you run A/C and/or air purifier in the cab, it could help. I don't know. Keep your ears open for related information to seek it out.
There is also a lot of research being done on COPD in trucking
How Do You Beat The Effects Of Trucking On the Body
The best way to combat injury and sickness of the body from any cause is to be in optimum health and fitness. (Or as close to it as you can)
Develop good eating habits and a sustainable exercise routine so that you are helping your body to naturally fight diseases and the effects of wear and tear from work. (And the abuses we put our body through which includes play)
Take a good multivitamin, I recommend the GNC powder, and try to eat a sensible and balanced diet for truckers.
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