There are many complaints about the HOS one-half hour break we have to take in an eight-hour period of on duty time. In reality we need to stop more to at least stretch our legs and our bodies, I am sure our minds can usually use the break as well from driving. Everything that I have read suggests that after one hour of sitting we need to get up and move. That is not a reality for a long distance driver and each one of us has to figure out how we can take micro rest breaks.
One suggestion was to change the seat position every hour and to have the seat properly fitted to our bodies. The following is from the American Chiropractic Association web site:
Adjusting the Seat
• Knees should not be higher than the hips.
• The front of the seat should not touch the back of the knee. Contact here will cause you to slide forward into a rounded posture.
• You should be able to depress the pedals all the way without twisting the back or moving away from the seat.
• If possible, adjust the lumbar section to provide gentle support.
• Slightly recline the back so the angle between the back and legs is approximately 110 degrees.
• Position the steering wheel to keep elbows as close to sides as possible, minimizing reach.
• Be sure instrumentation is easy to see.
• Adjust mirrors so you can see all mirrors without slouching or twisting. Use the mirrors as a cue to sit up when you slouch, instead of readjusting them.
The seat adjustment is a big deal in our truck, as it has to go from Bob who is 6'3 to me that is stretching to be 5'4. This is easily done with our seats as Bob can pull out the bottom cushion to support his longer legs from hip bone to knee and I put the seat cushion back so as not to cut off circulation to my lower leg’s The seat height is easily adjusted with the air and even with Bob's height the seat is not pushed all of the way back. With in a minute of switching drivers the seat and mirrors are adjusted to fit either of us comfortably.
I have found that when I drive for hours I am letting my body go into a C shape and that is going to have a huge impact on my posture as time goes on. Myself and many other drivers I know have problems with Carpel Tunnel Syndrome and part of this can be caused by gripping the steering wheel to tight and not changing our hand positions often enough. This can cause strain not only on our wrists but also on our shoulders.
An article written by Thorin Klosowski also has my attention as he is a writer and for hours would not get out of his chair. He had some interesting facts of what sitting for only six hours a day will do to a body:
After one year we can expect weight gain and our cholesterol level to be elevated. Women can expect to lose 1% of bone mass each year. After ten years of abusing our bodies we can expect to lose seven quality adjusted life years (the good ones) and our risk of dying from heart disease has risen 64% and our overall risk of prostate or breast cancer increases 30%.
In many of the drivers manuals it suggests that every couple of hours we get out and check our vehicle and trailer for any damage. This is a great time to bend down and look under truck and trailer for any air leaks or something chaffing. Bend over and look at the inside of the tires to see if there is a wheel seal leaking. When at a dock use the Henry Albert form of exercise and pickup bolt seals that have been carelessly left on the ground and can puncture a tire.
Exercising at the beginning and ending of each day does not totally take away from sitting for extended periods of time. As I mentioned before ideally we would get up at least every hour to stretch and move around and since this is not feasible for most there are a few things we can do till we take a break:
Change the position of the seat - lower or raise seat - adjust back
I think that our seats being air ride help us as we do move some when driving
Change the position of our hands on the steering wheel and loosen our grip
Move our legs around as much as possible, this will depend on the length of your legs, I have shorter legs so I can bounce them up and down next to the seat and stretch them out with out interfering with the brake or throttle.
Stop for a short period of time and use the FIT System to work the shoulder muscles and stretch out our legs. Walk around truck and trailer looking to see that everything is in good shape, take a lap around the truck stop before heading inside from that back row parking spot.
My eye opener came when I started using activity tracker and I realized that I am hardly moving and on long team loads with a tight delivery time I was not getting any exercise and less than 1000 steps A DAY. Personally I would suggest you get some kind of activity tracker and wear it all day to find out how much you move and to motivate you to move more to reach a goal.
I have found that on when we are sitting I need to set an alarm on my phone to remind me to get up as I get involved in my computer as I forget to stand. Many of the activity trackers allow you to set reminders if we sit to long. The bottom line is that we have to make the decision to get up more often and not keep the left door shut for extended periods of time.
Lifehacker - How sitting all day is Damaging your Body