National Carriers, Inc. Health Initiative Better Choices:
Stretch and Flex Program
Donna Emmert, Sr. Absence, Health, and Productivity Consultant
Certified Workplace Wellness Specialist
There is a growing awareness regarding the health concerns with “sitting disease”. Offices are adding standing workstations and encouraging employees to “Sit for 60 minutes and move for three minutes”. However, in the world of the over the road driver, it is not possible to stand and move hourly. As a result, it is even more important to move at every opportunity.
After driving for hours with the body in a static position, the muscles tighten. Add traffic or bad weather to the mix and the stress from driving results in even more pain. Getting in the habit of stretching at every stop will help keep the muscles loose, reduce the fatigue and relieve the tightness.
Stretching has many benefits, including increased flexibility and improved range of motion. After hours of driving, stretching will help improve the circulation and minimize the aches and pains from sitting. In addition, it helps reduce stress.
When starting a stretching program it is important to warm up first to prevent injury and stretching cold muscles. The stretches should be held for the required time listed, normally 15 to 20 seconds per stretch. Stretch to the point where there is tension but not pain and never bounce into the stretch. As with any exercise program if there are any questions regarding any of the stretches, a physician should be consulted.
Begin with at least one minute of warm ups to increase the heart rate, breathing rate, circulation, and muscle temperature. Never stretch cold muscles. They dynamic warm-ups include stationary marching or walking, toe touch and reach, side step with arm crosses, or heel taps.
The stretching routines, designed for National Carriers, Inc. will include stretches for your arms, chest, waist, upper back and shoulders, lower back, and legs. A stretching routine should take approximately five minutes and can be completed before you start a trip, and on each of your stops.
Stretches for your arms:
- Bicep stretch: Stretches the bicep and tricep muscles
- Finger and hand stretches: Stretches the forearms, wrists, hands, and fingers
- Forearm rotation: Stretches the forearms and hands
- Forearm stretch: Stretches the top and bottom of forearm and wrist
- Praying stretch: Increases range of motion in the wrists and stretches the wrists, forearms, and chest
- Arm crosses: Increases range of motion in the shoulder joint and stretches the chest, upper back and shoulders Avoid throwing or whipping the arms back and forth
- Large arm circles: Increases range of motion in the shoulder joint
- Overhead stretch: Stretches the shoulders, waist, and upper back
- Shoulder circles: Increases range of motion in the shoulder joint
- Shoulder shrugs: Increases range of motion in the shoulder joint and stretches the shoulders
- Shoulder stretch: Increases range of motion in the shoulder joint and stretches the shoulder and back of arm
- Side bend stretch: Stretches the waist and upper torso
- Small arm circles: Increases range of motion in the shoulder joint and strengthens the shoulders
- Three-point neck stretch: Stretches the neck and upper back
- Tricep stretch: Stretches the upper arm and shoulder
- Upper back stretch: Stretches the upper and lower back and back of the shoulders
- Upper back chest stretch: Stretches the upper back and chest
- Waist twist and hold stretch: Stretches the waist and shoulders
Stretches for your lower back:
- Hanging stretch: Stretches the lower back and hamstrings
- Low back extension: Stretches the lower back
- Standing knee lift: Stretches the lower back, buttocks, and back of thighs
- Three-point back stretch: Stretches the lower back, abdominals and waist
- Achilles stretch: Stretches the calf muscles of the lower leg, especially near the ankle
- Ankle flex stretch: Stretches the calf, shin and ankle
- Calf stretch: Stretches the calf muscles of the lower leg
- Standing quad stretch: Stretches the front of the thighs
The stretch and flex challenge: Start stretching at least three times daily and see how much better you feel at the end of the week.