When back pain is on the rise, Pelvic Tilts are here to save your back!
Pelvic tilts are an easy and very effective movement anyone and everyone can do, especially truck drivers when dealing with back pain.
I watched my father for years try to rearrange himself in his vehicle prior to his drive from Wisconsin to Indiana Sunday nights. He would be gone for the week and back hopefully on Friday night.
I remember watching him try to adjust his seat. Those weird roller balls he had hanging over his seat. But mostly I remember his face when he would get (and out) of his vehicle anticipating that long drive or coming back from it. My father wasn’t a truck driver, but he laid sewer pipe for a living and drove all over the Midwest to do it. He lived in his little Horizon car. A 6’2” rough around the edges man tooling all over the open road to then climb down into the smallest, most dangerous spaces every single day.
To say the least his body was his wrecking ball. Both on the drive and in the hole. But now in his 60’s, practicing a bit more self-care could have saved him one of his greatest assists…his body.
I got into yoga nearly 20 years ago. And as I got older, I began to feel back pain of my own and realized that now more than ever I really needed to zone in on what works. And pinpoint movements that I could do within my daily life. Because time is precious and why not make the most of those in between moments.
I believe that pelvic tilts are one of the fastest ways to reduce back pain and increase mobility. Plus, you can do them while you are driving.
And the best part is drivers can do simple exercises just like this and then get out and stretch their legs. Afterwards, go into their favorite TA and take a look at the StayFIT Menu for a meal that is just perfect for them. The StayFIT Menu has dozens of healthy options on it made to order. So there is no need for fast food. Just another way to feel better, wherever you are.
What are pelvic tilts?
Pelvic tilts are a super simple movement that asks you to tip the pelvis back and forward at varying degrees to help release tightness and also build resilience and strength in the pelvic area, lower back and abdomen.
Pelvic tilts are my #1 go to move for just about anyone with lower back pain. They are a simple yet effective exercise for those seeking back pain relief.
As a truck driver time is of the essence. You have miles to get under your belt and a deadline to meet. So I like movements where you can double up. Moves that can be done safely while you are driving.
While sitting many people struggle so much because their spine and pelvis sinks backwards into the seat. Taking their spine from an “S” curve, to a “C” curve, causing you back pain. And to further cause pain, that “S” curve is designed to help absorb impact, when you begin to lose that curve, pain begins to increase.
Where can pelvic tilts be done?
- Seated (in your truck)
- Lying down (in the sleeper or on the floor)
- On a large exercise ball
- In a Tabletop (all fours) position
- In any of the Fitness Centers in the various TA’s located across the US.
Easy how-to pelvic tilts instructions:
- Sitting in the driver’s seat of your truck, sit upright and tall.
- Notice your pelvis upright (sitting bones underneath you).
- Take one nice full deep breath, in and out.
- Inhale, and work to arch your lower back away from the truck seat (feel your belly drop forward).
- Exhale draw your navel in and round your lower back towards the seat.
- Inhale again and arch the back really exaggerating the arch and try to spread open your sitting bones underneath you and spilling your belly in-front of you.
- Exhale and breathe out fully, rounding out your lower back. Imagine tucking your tail bone between your legs.
- Repeat this for one to five minutes. As time goes on you should notice the stiffness dissolving and more mobility increasing.
I hear from many drivers it’s the discomfort while driving, but then those few minutes once they get out that they really notice the stiffness. And doing pelvic tilts regularly will dramatically help with that stiff feeling you get when getting out of the truck.
Remember to breathe!
In anything that you do breathing is essential. The average person breathes 21-24,000 times per day. Imagine what merely tuning into your breath could do for stress, anxiety, fatigue, and yes, reducing physical pain.
Shallow breathing can be linked to fatigue, dizziness, and anxiety. But it can also make using your physical body more challenging. Muscles need oxygen, breathing makes that possible.
You’re Using Your Core Incorrectly
When you engage your abdominal muscles, make sure to focus and really engage them. Don’t just push your belly out or suck it in as you perform the movement. You’ll feel deeper muscles (transverse abdominus) working once you’ve fully engaged your core. Still not sure if your core is kicking in? Take a moment and with your hands on your waist cough and feel your core muscles contract as you do so.
Need a Modification?
There are several ways you can practice pelvic tilts.
When you are laying down ready to go to bed, bend your knees and practice pelvic tilts. Inhale and work to arch your back away from the bed like there is a pin behind your lower back. Exhale and press the pin into the bed without lifting your hips.
You can also try this standing. Either lean against the wall with your feet angled out. Or standing, bend your knees and plant your hands on your knees bracing yourself. Now move through the pelvic tilt sequence several times.
While standing and kneeling pelvic tilts can be a little more of a challenge, they’re a better option for people who are pregnant or unable to lie on their backs.
Always check in
As always, check with your doctor before starting or intensifying a workout routine, especially if you have conditions, injuries, or are healing from surgery involving your neck, spine, abdomen, or pelvis. And if you are wanting to lie down and practice pelvic tilts, check out one of TA’s various indoor fitness centers available to you along with other great health and fitness options through TA-Petro’s StayFit menu. Just don’t forget your mat!
Why this works
Trucking can wreak havoc on many drivers bodies, particularly your lower back. Long-term sitting and poor posture is a recipe for many drivers leaving them with pain, stiffness and unwanted injury not because they didn’t exercise. But because they weren’t moving the body enough during the day.
Pelvic tilts are an easy movement that keeps the lower back and hips mobile, increases circulation in those areas and reduces stiffness when you get out of the truck. And practices like yoga are a great way to help decrease the effects of back pain and stiffness many drivers are struggling with.
Try It Out
Pelvic tilts can be done anytime, anywhere. No need for fancy equipment. No need for a gym membership or a personal trainer. All you need is your body, driver’s seat and an intention to move the body more.
Making the commitment to insert just a little more movement into your day will make a big difference when you do it consistently. Every move counts. And it’s about the consistency. Can you see yourself doing this regularly as you drive? While you are laying down in the sleeper before you go to bed? Wherever you are.
This simple move could be the difference between you throwing your back out, you getting out of the truck stiff and immobile for three minutes while you try to go from sitting position to standing. Pelvic tilts could be the one simple change that you make that takes you down the road to an improved routine of your personal self-care.
Where do you see pelvic tilts fitting into your day?
I challenge you to add them in today.
Want to learn more?
Join Hope with Mother Trucker Yoga, alongside TA-Petro and St. Christopher Truckers Fund for all things truckers and health at participating TA-Petros this week and throughout the month of September!
Check out Travel Centers of America’s Facebook Page for details on each of the upcoming events!