Truck driving has long been an occupation that has had an unhealthy stereotype. While we have tackled how to highlight a company’s commitment to having healthy drivers in the past, it is important to dive into these issues regularly and with fresh thoughts and ideas. Not only will it confirm management’s promise to help drivers maintain healthy lives, but it will also save money on a business’s bottom line by keeping healthcare costs down.
Common Physical Ailments of Truck Drivers
Back pain is a regular part of life for many people, with as many as 80% of all adults saying that they have experienced back pain at some point. For truck drivers, it can be something that they experience daily. Because of long hours in the driver’s seat, 81% of truckers around the world, according to the Journal of Occupational Health, experience musculoskeletal pain, or MSP. In the U.S., these issues with pain are usually categorized in one of three ways: as RLS, or Restless Leg Syndrome, Sciatica, or Gas Pedal Knee.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome is a condition that creates an irresistible urge for a person to move their legs. Because of its pervasiveness in the industry, some have even started calling it “Trucker Leg Syndrome.” While there are no confirmed reasons for the onset of RLS, some experts suspect that it is due to an imbalance of dopamine in the brain, which regulates muscle movement. For drivers who spend most of their day sitting, RLS can make it difficult for truckers to fall asleep or stay asleep when they have down time. There are no cures for this affliction at this time. However, there are treatments, including medications and massage and physical therapies to mitigate the effects.
Sciatica is one of the most common conditions associated with truck driving. Caused by a compression of the sciatic nerve in the lower back, sciatica can be difficult to manage for someone who is seated the bulk of their day. The symptoms of sciatica are aches in one leg and the lower back, experiencing pain when sitting down, and having shooting pains when standing up. Some drivers also mention having numbness in the foot of the leg experiencing the aching, creating issues when it comes to getting in and out of the truck. For 80% of drivers afflicted, sciatica can eventually go away on its own within 90 days. However, for those who have symptoms longer than that, or for drivers who need immediate relief, the treatments are over-the-counter medications, cold packs on the lower back to minimize the swelling of the sciatic nerves, or heating pads for tense and spasming muscles.
Gas Pedal Knee
The phrase “Gas Pedal Knee” refers to truck drivers who report having knee pain while driving. This condition is also known as patellar tendonitis. Usually resulting from prolonged periods of pushing the gas or brake pedal, this can cause pain from the knee all the way down to the foot, making it another persistent injury found among truck drivers.
How Does This Affect Recruiting Truckers?
With all of the issues that go with truck driver recruitment, one might think that this might be a bridge too far for many people, but the key is to be a company that teaches and joins its drivers in creating the healthy habits that mitigate these issues. The healthcare industry has taken note of the maladies that afflict drivers, and some, like the Nebraska Spine Clinic, have come out with guidelines that can be beneficial to truckers in pain. Many of these practices seem very easy. By practicing body stretching exercises, taking proper breaks during a trip, sitting in a relaxing posture, and moving all body parts at times during a drive, truckers can minimize the physical effects of driving on their bodies.
What does this mean for recruiters, though? The important thing is to communicate the desire for happy and healthy drivers; companies can do this through their employer brand. Recruitment materials and implementing programs that can involve drivers and office workers alike in engaging in healthier lifestyles must be part of the strategy to improve health for the company overall. Make a rewards program that gives out prizes for steps taken during a normal workday. Take the time to emphasize to drivers that breaks are important and give them exercises and tips for staying active on the open road. If your employer branding includes a healthy work culture, it will eventually show in healthier drivers, which will also lead to a lower cost for healthcare down the road. It is imperative that truckers know that their health and safety are being looked after by their company.
At this time, truck drivers enter the profession understanding that there are health risks associated with the industry. However, there is knowing that there are health hazards, and then there is actually experiencing the physical pain in the back and legs of driving for a living. As the backbone of our economy, our truckers deserve better and yet still get in the cab and keep driving. However, in order to attract fresh drivers, the industry will need to make improvements to the ways they support drivers, including helping them live healthier, pain free lives.
Do you need help improving your employer branding? Join LzRecruit Network! Lower your Cost Per Lead and Time to Hire today. We offer 100% direct leads. For more information on the LzRecruit Network, contact us at 800-755-0623.
Meaghan Goldberg covers recruitment and digital marketing for Lionzone. A Patterson, GA native, after graduating from both Valdosta State University and Middle Tennessee State University, Meaghan joined Lionzone in 2018 as a digital recruitment strategist before becoming the social media manager.