Your health
All that sitting makes for a tired and at-risk trucker

By Buck Black, LCSW, LCAC

II realize that I sit a lot during the day, but I'm just so tired at the end of my driving shift. To make matters worse, my legs just feel swollen and tired. Is this a sign of a condition?

The sedentary lifestyle in trucking is a problem - and can be worse for operations where loading and unloading is not as common for the driver, further reducing physical activity.

The negative health effects of sitting for long periods of time are plentiful. However, perhaps one of the most prevalent in truck drivers is poor circulation, which can lead to deep vein thrombosis or "Trucker Leg." These are blood clots that can form in a deep vein. If you have swelling, pain, tenderness or redness of the skin, go to a doctor immediately.

Prevention is truly the best medicine, and it's not that hard for truckers who don't have other risk factors for DVT.

It's recommended by the Centers for Disease Control that you make sure to get up and walk around every two to three hours. Try investing in a pedometer or fitness tracker and schedule regular breaks with a step goal in mind. For example, 10,000 steps a day is a number that is popular for weight control. And, remember, all those steps don't have to happen all at once. Build up to more and more steps.

While sitting in the cab driving down the road, you can also promote blood flow by raising and lowering your heel while keeping your toes on the floor. And then alternate by raising and lowering your toes, keeping your heel on the floor.

There are some mixed reviews out there in the science world. But the Mayo Clinic points out that stretching does improve blood flow to the muscles. So maybe a few minutes stretching a couple times a day will not only loosen you up, but get the blood pumping again.

The upside to moving around more is the reduced risk of deep vein thrombosis, a decrease in swelling of the feet and legs, and an increase in energy. Secondary effects are lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol.

IThere have been reports on the news about a new "super lice." Is this something we should be worried about while we're on the road? Or is it really more of a problem for our kids back at home?

Researchers are finding that head lice (Pediculosis capitis) mostly affects children. Truckers are not often affected by this parasite but can be on occasion. Children are their favorite people, and "super lice" are becoming resistant to over-the-counter treatments.

These super lice now exist in 25 U.S. states and make up 97 percent of head lice cases in Canada. Like most pests, lice have evolved and can become even more of a frustration and challenge than they were before. Because OTC treatments are not working on super lice, seek a doctor familiar with both types of lice.  

A head lice infestation isn't a sign of poor personal hygiene or an unclean living environment. Head lice don't carry bacterial or viral infectious diseases. Minimizing the risk of infestation is really pretty simple.

  • Avoid head-to-head contact with non-family members.
  • Do not share personal belongings such as hats, scarves, coats, combs, headphones, etc.
  • void placing belongings such as a coat or hat in a shared storage space.

Teaching your children these steps can save your family back home a lot of headaches trying to rid the home of head lice once contracted. LL

Buck Black is a licensed clinical social worker therapist who specializes in helping truckers and their families with anger and stress management, as well as depression and relationship problems. He does this over the phone, and Skype at TruckerTherapy.com. This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Land Line Magazine or its publisher. Please remember everyone's health situation is different. If you have questions regarding medical issues, consult your personal physician.