Truck Driver Back Pain: Causes and Solutions for OTR Truckers 

Truck drivers frequently struggle with back pain. We’ll show you the root cause of this problem and some of the things that drivers can do to manage or prevent it.


Jacob Lee
March 7, 2023
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Truck driver back pain is a problem that many drivers struggle with in the transportation industry. There are many tasks that truckers must perform over long periods of time that puts stress on their back. Fortunately, truckers can use a few different methods that will relieve spinal discomfort.  

The most common causes of truck driver back pain include poor posture, lack of mobility, and heavy lifting while on the job. Solutions for preventing and relieving truck driver back pain include improving your posture, stretching, and, believe it or not, a more balanced diet.

Truck driver back pain is something that both experienced and inexperienced truckers should understand. 

What Are Some Common Truck Driver Back Issues?

While being a truck driver doesn’t seem like the most strenuous profession, it can take a toll on a person’s spine. Depending on the cause, truckers will start to feel discomfort in their lower or upper back. 

Upper Back

Truck driver upper back pain is typically the result of some type of strain on that area of the spine. There are two specific types of upper back strain that truck drivers frequently have to deal with. 

These are most commonly the result of:

  • Poor posture
  • Physical activity

Many truck drivers have to perform a variety of different duties that prevent them from maintaining good posture. Certain trucking jobs may also require truck drivers to perform physical labor. 

Lower Back

The spine is full of discs with nerves running from them and throughout the rest of the body. Truck driver’s lower back pain is typically caused when the discs in the lower part of the spine begin to compress. This puts pressure on the nerves and causes this part of the trucker’s back to hurt. 

Driving a semi requires drivers so sit for a long amount of time. Staying seated for many hours allows the discs in the lower back to compress. Truck drivers that suffer from lower back pain require lumbar support to help them while they’re on the road.   

A truck driver bent over their steering wheel in pain

What Causes Truck Driver Back Pain?

There are numerous reasons why truckers are suffering from back pain. One common cause of truck driver back pain is improper posture due to the position of a trucker’s seat. 

Some seating issues include:

  • The chair being too close or far from the wheel
  • The chair being too high or low
  • A trucker isn’t maintaining proper posture
  • A trucker is sitting on the edge of their seat

Another common cause of back pain for truck drivers is the placement of their steering wheel. If the wheel is positioned too high, pain in the shoulders and the upper back will begin to set in. When the steering wheel is too low, drivers will begin to feel pain further down their arms and their upper back.

Physical labor, such as loading and unloading freight, can take a toll on a trucker’s spine as well. Drivers with this responsibility are equipped with pallet jacks so they can easily move freight in and out of their trailer. Even with this piece of equipment, truckers can strain their spine when they use force to lift a pallet.

Can You Be A Trucker With A Bad Back?

Having a bad back won’t prevent anyone from becoming a truck driver. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) doesn’t discriminate against participants with back pain in its Commercial Driver License (CDL) testing. 

Most trucking companies won’t consider the well-being of a trucker’s spine during the hiring process. The only time that having a bad back can prevent someone from being a trucker is if they’re unable to perform the duties expected of them as a driver.   

A man doing some stretchers on the bleachers

How To Achieve Truck Driver Back Pain Relief

Truck drivers deal with many stressors that can cause back pain. Dealing with physical pain while performing job duties makes truck driving a more challenging profession. That said, there are a few things that truckers can do to manage and prevent pain in their backs. 

1.Eating Right

Believe it or not, one of the things that truckers can do to relieve their back problems is to eat right. Certain foods can cause inflammation in joints. Since the spine is filled with joints, truckers might accidentally self inflict some of their own back pain due to what they eat.  

Some foods that can cause joint inflammation include:

  • Bread 
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Drinks and snacks with high quantities of sugar  
  • Fried foods

Essentially, foods that are high in carbs and saturated fats. Truckers should either avoid eating these types of foods altogether or only eat them in moderation. Truckers can either supplement or completely replace these foods with other options that won’t cause inflammation. 

According to the Spine Works Institute, the following foods will help ease back pain: 

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Nuts

These foods will also prevent inflammation in other joints besides the spine. They can also be used as ingredients for a variety of different snacks. 

Check out our article on 10 healthy snacks for truck drivers that will keep your appetite at bay. 

2.Emptying Your Pockets

Another method that truck drivers can use to relieve their back pain is to empty their pockets when they sit down in their truck. Truckers that sit down with items in their pockets might have a harder time maintaining good posture. For example, if a trucker sits down with their wallet in their back pocket, they’ll be sitting lopsided during their journey. 

The contour of seat cushions can also make sitting down with items within side pockets uncomfortable as well. Truckers should empty anything in their pockets onto the passenger seat or on the dashboard of the truck. This will help prevent poor posture during long drives on the road. 

3. Staying Hydrated

As surprising as it seems, staying hydrated is another way truckers can help prevent or manage their chronic back pain. Not drinking enough water will reduce the amount of fluid within the spinal disks. When a driver becomes dehydrated, their spinal discs can begin to shrink and swell. 

While truckers might not drink enough water to avoid bathroom breaks, it’s important that they stay hydrated for the sake of their back and overall health. 

Stay hydrated with our 10 summer driving safety tips for truckers

4.Using Cruise Control

Cruise control is a great way to maintain speed on long stretches of road. Another benefit of using cruise control is that it can help truckers manage their back pain as it relates to posture. 

Driving requires truckers to sit with their legs outstretched for many long hours. Constantly applying and releasing pressure on the brake and gas pedals is very exhausting for truck drivers. With the use of cruise control, truckers can keep their legs in a relaxed position more frequently than usual.    

Some other benefits of cruise control include:

  • The ability to speed up gradually when needed
  • Save on fuel
  • Help move with the flow of traffic

While cruise control helps truck drivers manage their back pain, they should still be careful when using it during their driving time. Severe weather and traffic conditions make use of this driving option less plausible. 

5. Adjusting Mirrors

Another tip that’s related to posture – adjusting mirrors at the right angle is another way that truckers can help reduce their back pain. Leaning forward and back or turning away from the road can fatigue a trucker’s spine. It’s also dangerous for truckers to turn their heads and bodies while driving. 

Before a trucker goes out on the road, they should make sure that their mirrors are adjusted correctly. Truckers should only have to move their eyes or turn their head very slightly to see out of each mirror. This will help keep them focused and reduce stress on their backs. 

6. Stretching

Truckers are used to sitting in the same position for hours on end everyday, but that lack of mobility can do some serious damage to the spine.

Walking around at rest stops, or, more importantly, stretching while you’re out of the cab, can make a huge improvement in back pain relief. Yoga and other stretching exercises have been proven to ease chronic lower back pain. 

Some of the best stretches to help provide back pain relief include:

  • Cat-cow stretch
  • Knee-to-chest chest
  • Child’s pose
  • Pelvic tilt
  • Bridge pose
  • Cobra stretch

Not only can stretching help relieve back pain, but it has additional benefits, like increased flexibility and mobility. 

Drive With ABCO To Give Your Trucking Career A Big Boost

Many truck drivers seeking to improve their career start driving for ABCO. Truckers that join the ABCO team can expect competitive pay and top-tier benefit options. We also understand how important time off is for our drivers. That’s why ABCO provides flexible schedules that allows drivers to have a good balance between being at home and work. 

The ABCO fleet also consists of modern trucks that are equipped with Sirius XM Radio. This gives our drivers comfort and entertainment while they’re on the road. Lastly, ABCO has numerous resorts that our team members can travel to when they go on vacation.

If you’re ready to give your trucking career a boost, then apply with ABCO today. You can also call the ABCO team at (866) 980-2710 for more information about job opportunities.

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