Physical Requirements to Be a Truck Driver - Trucking Lifestyle
Getting your CDL certification to become an owner operator of a commercial truck is the first important phase of any truck driver's career. The second is meeting all of the physical requirements for the job. To be completely qualified to hit the road on a regular basis owner operators must pass a DOT (Department of Motor Vehicles) physical. This physical is necessary to not only protect the driver's health, but also fellow drivers and pedestrians. Driving a truck with a heavy load is a huge responsibility, which does carry enormous risks to public safety. It doesn't matter if you feel that you're as healthy as a horse. A physical is required to prove that you are fit enough to sit behind the wheel of a large vehicle while sharing the road with other drivers.
The Hidden Physical Demands of Being a Truck Driver
As with any job, there are certain mental and physical components that are not always apparent when you are just starting out. When it comes to living the real trucking lifestyle many owner operators understand that each haul can be taxing on their bodies. When you're in school learning all of the ins and outs of driving a big rig truck it is very exciting. Indeed, you are anxious to finish up that training so that you can take your truck out on the road. Once you actually start driving you'll quickly find out that its not all about enjoying the freedom of constant travel.
Regardless of what types of goods you are hauling, the physical condition of your body is going to come into play at some point. Even if you are not required to touch the freight most of the time, you need to consider other factors that can drain you physically.
Back pain is one of the most frequent trucker problems that arises from doing this job. Most likely you will be required to help load and unload the freight. Be prepared for this because you will need to adapt good lifting practices. To avoid injuring your back, you should always bend your knees before picking up or lowering a heavy box. Move the box a little to test the weight before lifting. If the box is really heavy, get a tight grip on it and move slow and smoothly - no sudden jerking motions. Don't twist your body during the lift. Always use a dolly or a forklift if handy.
Another less obvious cause of back pain is a result of sitting for long hours. Because you are constantly working under deadline, there won't be a lot of time for stopping and allowing your body to get some exercise. Truckers spend hours glued to their seat in the same position. Meanwhile, the seat may be bouncing a bit due to the movement of the vehicle underneath. After a while, your back may become achy in spots. Your spine may also take on some wear and tear.
To protect your back while driving you should make sure that your seat is well adjusted in the best position for your body. You can also purchase a special seat cushion designed for trucks. Another tip is to stretch out your back, arms and legs during breaks to loosen up those stiff muscles.
Think that you can wolf down fatty foods like burgers, fries and donuts day in and day out without any health consequences? Think again. You may enjoy eating lots of comfort food along with tasty snacks, but a lot of these meals will cause you to gain weight real fast. Combine a poor diet with the typical sedentary nature of driving for hours on end and your physical health can spiral out of control. Owner operators are constantly under the gun and often don't bother with trying to eat healthier foods.
However, that high calorie, high sugar food can lead to more serious health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic digestive ailments. Because truckers must pass their DOT physicals to stay in business, it is wise to make healthier food choices. It's okay to enjoy that hearty breakfast, lunch or dinner and a few snacks. Just be sure that you aren't loading down your body with lots of empty calories that don't add anything to your overall health and well-being. For instance, you don't have to have a big stack of pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage. Simply have the pancakes and one selection of meat. Instead of steak and potatoes, choose steak and a salad.
Another taxing issue that a lot of trucker drivers deal with is lack of sleep. Again, the pressure to get from point A to Z as quickly as possible means that you are tempted to skip taking a sleep break. This is nothing to take lightly. Lack of sleep can cause you to experience such ailments as heart disease, irregular heartbeat, diabetes and stroke. Lesser problems are mental fog, forgetfulness, depression, poor judgment, weight gain and reduced sex drive. On top of all that it can make you more prone to accidents.
As you can see, owner operators must always be vigilant about staying in the best physical condition possible. The trucking lifestyle can be very rewarding if you are willing to take care of your mental and physical health. A healthy truck driver is both successful and a benefit to society.