Shoulder Pain in Truckers
Shoulder pain commonly occurs alongside upper back and neck pain among truck drivers. Coming in as one of the top complaints in the industry, shoulder pain and shoulder injuries often result from the repetitive motions that are involved with driving a truck. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), around 50% of truck drivers develop soreness and pain on the job. While back pain tends to be more prevalent for truckers, shoulder injuries can be more costly and can require more time off from work. If not treated or managed properly, the shoulder pain that results from driving can, and likely will, worsen. If you are a truck driver who is experiencing shoulder pain, keep reading to learn more about various solutions to help prevent or alleviate your pain.
Causes Of Shoulder Pain For Truckers
Often referred to as “trucker shoulder,” discomfort in the shoulders is common in the trucking industry. There are several leading causes for shoulder pain as a truck driver, the main causes being lack of movement, repetitive motions, and sudden movements.
Lack Of Movement
The primary reason for any pain or long-term injury for truck drivers is prolonged sitting. Research indicates that sitting puts substantially more pressure on the spine than standing, thus, when a driver is seated in one position for long periods of time, the duration of that pressure can cause discomfort and even damage. Pressure on the spine is commonly linked to back, shoulder, and neck pain.
Highways in the United States are constructed to tilt slightly to the right to allow adequate drainage when it rains. While this keeps the roads safer, it also causes large trucks to pull to the right of the road. This pulling sensation is amplified in semi-trucks, which are also already built to pull to the right. Semi-trucks are designed this way for safety reasons, as well. If a truck driver were to fall asleep while driving, the truck would pull to the right to avoid drifting into traffic. Because of this strong right-side pull, truck drivers have to constantly shift the steering wheel to keep the truck in line with the road. This repetitive left adjustment, coupled with the repetitive motions required when doing things like getting in and out of your truck, chaining, loading, and unloading your truck, can lead to joint inflammation, shoulder dislocation, and severe shoulder pain. Typically, pain is not the first indicator that something is wrong with your shoulder. Damage to the shoulder will often start as numbness or tingling. You may even notice a restricted range of motion. If not managed or treated, this will eventually graduate to pain. If left untreated, shoulder issues can become debilitating.
Another cause of shoulder pain and injury in trucker drivers is sudden steering movements. According to recent studies, if you have your seat positioned too far back from your steering column where your arms are fully extended, any sudden or unplanned steering motions can cause strain on your shoulders. This can be prevented by sitting close enough to the wheel so that you are not adding extra strain to your shoulders when emergency steering action is needed.
Lack of Support While Sleeping
Another cause of shoulder pain, and even back pain, is not getting adequate spinal support while sleeping. Since we sleep for an average of one third of our day, it is important to have the support and comfort needed to prevent pain or injury while sleeping. Upgrading your semi truck mattress to an aftermarket mattress can be a great way to ensure your spine and shoulders have the support they need. Our truck and RV mattresses at SleepDog® are manufactured with truckers’ sleep needs at the forefront, to ensure that truckers have the support they need after a long day of driving.
Solutions For Shoulder Pain
While shoulder pain in truckers is very common, it is also very manageable. It is important for truckers to take adequate rest stops to move and stretch on a regular basis. Below are some of our favorite suggestions to help reduce or prevent shoulder pain.
Any trucker is likely to feel strain in their neck, back, and shoulders after a long period of driving. Below are some great stretches to keep the muscles in your shoulders both loose and strong so you don’t experience any pain.
Rotator Cuff Stretches
- Using a doorway to stretch is great because you can moderate how much rotation and force goes through the rotator cuff. Either standing or kneeling, place your arm against the doorway, relax your shoulders and gently lean forward. Switch arms as necessary.
- High-low rows are also a great stretch for shoulders. Hold your arms out in front of you like you’re holding two jugs. Then, slowly bring your fists in towards the side of your ribs. Do this motion 10 times for 3-4 sets.
Front Deltoid Stretches
- Sit or stand and, without bending your back, try to touch your toes. This stretches the front deltoid.
Improve Your Diet
To help maintain the strength of your shoulder, make sure your diet includes foods that promote muscle and connective tissue growth. Fruits and vegetables that are collagen-boosting, high in antioxidants and substantial sources of protein are great for strengthening muscles and connective tissue.
Relieve Shoulder Pain With A SleepDog® Mattress
Most, if not all, sleeper cabins come with a low quality mattress that is not specifically designed to support the needs of a truck driver’s body after driving all day. Having a high quality, memory foam mattress that provides pressure relief and supports the body and joints is very important to make sure aches and pains, especially in the shoulders, are not exacerbated. If you are looking for support to alleviate or stop shoulder pain before it begins, take a look at our American made SleepDog® or BigDawg Mattress™. SleepDog® mattresses are DOT approved and come with plush multilayer memory foam and quilted foam cover construction to support your shoulders and back while you sleep.
In conclusion, many truckers think that the only shoulders they need to worry about are the ones on the road. However, truckers who disregard their own shoulders are at a heightened risk for chronic pain and extensive injuries. It is important for truckers to be aware of potential injuries or pain that can result from the job. As demand for drivers continues to grow, taking a little extra care of yourself can go a long way toward ensuring you stay healthy and prevent avoidable injuries. A simple way to both prevent and treat joint and muscle pain while on the road is with a SleepDog® mattress. Sleeping on a low quality OEM mattress can actually lead to, or worsen, pain. We always suggest avoiding that problem by finding the right mattress for your sleep and recovery needs.