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strong abs with mother trucker yoga blog post

Best Core Exercises for Truck Drivers

Best Core Exercises for Truck Drivers when they don’t have a lot of time.

We have all heard how important it is to strengthen your core, but the only problem is most people are still doing traditional core work. 

What is traditional core work?

Traditional core work in my experience is exercised flat on your back, where you flex your body (crunch) up off the floor. When movements like these are coupled with flailing fast and furious body parts, you feel out of breath and hurt for the wrong reasons. Yet there we are calling “sit-ups” an excellent core workout when there is a better way. 

Times have changed and so has how we move, with the average person sitting 13 hours a day that’s enough if that’s not enough to consider moving more, I don’t know what is. And if you average in 8 hours of sleep on average, a person gets, that 21 hours PER DAY people are sitting. 

The stats don’t lie, we sit way to much!

On top of all of that sitting at work, and for meals and commuting, the respondents:

  • Sit another 1-2 hours while watching TV (36 percent)
  • Game another 1-2 hours (10 percent)
  • Lounge for 1-2 hours for things such as reading (25 percent)
  • Use their home computer for 1-2 hours (29 percent)” (PRNewswire)

And truck driver or not- we Americans sit WAY TO MUCH! 

So when you choose exercises to try to improve your health, fitness, and overall well-being, we want to make sure we are selecting movements that aid us in our everyday life.

Why Not Sit-Ups?

The traditional sit-up is done flat on your back; when core-based exercises are all performed this way, we lose the opportunity to use our back muscles (which are a part of our core). So if you are concerned with the health of your back and spine, it is best to opt for other movements when focusing on your midsection. 

Sit-ups also focus primarily on flexion, and for someone who spends most of their day sitting, this is not helping you. All of that flexion encourages the chest, pec, and neck muscles to stay short and tight, and the upper back and neck muscles to continue to be overstretched and strained. Think about your driving position (or if you are in an office, how you sit at your computer), after a few hours you end up with your head sinking forward and your shoulders and chest collapsing forward over the steering wheel. Like you would yank and pull on your upper body during a sit-up. 

Finally, those good-intentioned sit-ups only work a small portion of your core, and the movement you are choosing to do shortens the abs rather than lengthens them. And if you are going to work on your back, make sure you are finding what is called “neutral.” A place where your lower back is not pressed flat into the floor nor overly arched. 

So when you choose the best types of exercises to strengthen your core as a truck driver, choose movements that:

  1. Focus on form and function.

     Gone are the days that huffing and puffing, yanking and jerking your body all over the place and calling it a good workout are over. Core exercises or not, challenge yourself and see how well you can hold a move or move slowly and control how you move every step of the way. 

  2. Focus on movements that extend more than flex.

    The extension works the body 408% (roughly 10x) more effectively than flexion does.

  3. Focus on movements that include working your back muscles.

    When all we do is “front core” exercises or what many of us call “ab” exercises we actually leave our back vulnerable for injury. By inadvertently over strengthening our front core and neglecting our back muscles (which are a part of our core) we can sometimes do more harm than good. (Read more about neck issues what exercises to do to help)

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), core training is an essential part of any personal fitness routine. Your core helps transfer force and power from your lower to upper limbs. The stronger your midsection is, the safer you’ll be during exercise, plus when you have a stronger core, you are less likely to injure your back.

4 Exercises for Truckers to Strengthen Their Core:

Exercise #1 – Weighted Extension:

Prep Time: 1 Minute

Total Exercise Time: 30 Seconds – 3 Minutes

  1. Find a place to sit on your sleeper, the ground, or your floor at home.
  2. Bend your knees (optional place a pillow or small ball between your knees to squeeze for lower body stability. (If your tail bone is sensitive place a blanket under your tailbone)
  3. Grab your weight (1 lb – 10 lbs) and place it at your chest.
  4. Keep a straight spine (no rounding in the shoulders, upper back, or lower back).
  5. Inhale and exhale to prepare.
  6. Inhale slightly tuck your tail bone under and lean back to 45 degrees (do not go all the way down).
  7. Exhale and with control draw your body back up sitting tall and press your arms overhead/weight.
  8. Do not round your upper body when pressing up overhead. If your shoulders are tight press the arms to a 45-degree angle.
  9. Repeat this 10-30 reputations working on form, function, and control.

Weighted core full extension truck driver core workout mother trucker yoga blog post

Exercise #2 – Oblique Weighted Twist

Prep Time: 1 Minute

Total Exercise Time: 30 Seconds – 3 Minutes

  1. Find a place to sit on your sleeper, the ground, or your floor at home.
  2. Bend your knees (optional place a pillow or small ball between your knees to squeeze for lower body stability. (If your tail bone is sensitive place a blanket under your tailbone)
  3. Grab your weight (1 lb – 10 lbs) and hold it in front of your chest (imagine there is a pole keeping your hands in front of your chest).
  4. Keep a straight spine (no rounding in the shoulders, upper back, or lower back).
  5. Inhale and exhale to prepare.
  6. Inhale slightly tuck your tail bone under and lean back to 45 degrees (do not go all the way down).
  7. Inhale and work to rotate to the right, really pay attention to your spine and rib cage rotating (not your hips and pelvis).
  8. Exhale and return back to center (stay at 45-degree angle).
  9. Inhale and work to rotate to the left, go as far as you can without rolling onto one hip or rounding your spine.
  10. Repeat this 5 to 20 rep each direction.

Oblique Weighted Twist Core Exercise Mother Trucker yoga Blog Post

Exercise #3 – Plank Oblique Twist

Prep Time: 1 Minute

Total Exercise Time: 30 Seconds – 3 Minutes

  1. Start on your hands and knees on the sleeper, ground, or your floor at home.
  2. Drop to your forearms and place your elbows and fists a forearm’s width apart.
  3. Step one foot back at a time until your body is in one straight line.
  4. Press your fists into the floor to help activate your core.
  5. Drop your tailbone between your legs and press your lower abs and hip bones into your lower back.
  6. Draw your shoulders back and breathe.
  7. Now rotate your hips and lower body to the right.
  8. Press your hips up slightly to activate your obliques.
  9. Hold for 5-20 breaths, then repeat the opposite side.

Plank Oblique Twist Best Core Exercises for Truckers Mother Trucker Yoga Blog Post

Exercise #4 – Plank Oblique Twist

Prep Time: 1 Minute

Total Exercise Time: 30 Seconds – 3 Minutes

  1. Start by lying down on your sleeper, the ground, or the floor.
  2. Adjust your pelvis so it’s level, do not press your lower back into the floor, imagine a small arch in your lower back.
  3. Draw your legs up to a tabletop position (optional: put a mini ball or pillow between the knees and squeeze for more stability) and flex your feet (you can opt to keep your feet on the ground OR do a few reps with one leg, and then switch to the other).
  4. Grab your weight (optional) and extend it up overhead. Turn the folds of your elbows towards your nose (shoulders move in external rotation).
  5. Inhale and exhale, work to stabilize your core, remember only go as far as you can keep your back and ribs from arching and pulling up towards the ceiling.
  6. Inhale, and begin to lower your legs towards the floor and your arms overhead.
  7. Reach through your fingers to stretch the shoulders.
  8. Exhale and draw your arms back up and knees back up over your hips.
  9. Repeat this 10 – 30 times moving mindfully with your breath. This is not a race.
  10. To make this more of a challenge (as long as you can keep your back from arching) once your heels meet 1 inch off the floor, press your legs long and engage your glutes and inner thighs.
  11. You go this!

Weighted core full extension truck driver core exercise mother trucker yoga blog post

weighted core full extension for truck drivers mother trucker yoga blog post

Strengthening your core is extremely important regardless of your physical state or your age. When implemented correctly, you can experience a decreased risk of injury, better stability, and performance during workouts. A strong core improves the quality of life for everyone and reduces the chances of severe injury.

Age, mobility restrictions, or past injuries shouldn’t prevent you from strengthening your core. You can get all these benefits by performing these exercises safely and effectively. Focus on proper breathing and posture first and ditch the sit-ups. You’re bound to notice better balance and stability and may even see a reduction in back pain. But they won’t do anything for you unless you allow yourself to start today with 5 minutes of simple core work. 

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10 Tips for a Functional Body

10 Tips for a Functional Body

Did you know that there are over 7 million truck drivers on our roads? Sadly, truckers are one of the unhealthiest populations in our country. The long work hours, little to no time to rest or stretch throughout the day, and the obvious requirement of sitting for long hours on end do not help matters much. These forces work against drivers maintaining a functional body, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Yoga has been around for nearly 5,000 years. Yoga is comprised of different poses that help different parts of the body. Most people start to incorporate yoga, or other mindful movements, into their daily routine in order to benefit themselves both mentally and physically. 

It isn’t a secret that life on the road as a trucker isn’t easy. Deadlines quickly become the priority and your health and overall well-being takes a backseat. BUT you don’t need a gym or a yoga studio to stay healthy. There are many things that you can do to help keep your body functional and healthy while on the road. 

Here are 4 changes you can start to make today to start living life on the healthier side of the highway. Get a functional body in no time!

 

  1. Do Something While You Are Driving!

    Now please don’t take this the wrong way. Safety should ALWAYS be your #1 priority. However, if you can multitask while driving I encourage you to do it. Get the most out of the time you have by utilizing hand weights, resistance bands or mindful breathing exercises while driving. Better yet, tune into Mother Trucker Yoga’s Yoga in Seat Guided Audio that guides you through simple exercises to help keep your body and mind limber, happy and healthy while on the road.
  2. Move

    How many trucks have ever considered yoga? Probably not many. It’s ok–believe it or not, I’m not shocked. However, yoga is for everyone–truckers included. Truck drivers sit all day, have limited movement opportunities, incur broken sleep patterns, and have added stressors that continually take a toll on their bodies. There are also limited resources available to them to make the changes they know they need to make. Incorporating yoga movements will help you to increase wholeness and wellness. If you are looking for a starting point, the Mother Trucker Yoga Online Studio only costs $7.99/month and you will receive professional, inspiring, functionally-safe classes accessible wherever you go. 
  3. Shed Your Shoes

    After a long day on the road, take off your shoes! Our bodies are like rubber bands; the tighter a rubber band gets on one end, the more it will pull on the other end. If our fascia becomes stiff, the more we feel that sticky stiffness in our bodies. So what I’m saying is: if your hips are tight, your feet will react, and if your feet are tight, your hips will react. Get the point? So in the end, shed those shoes! And if you suffer from foot pain, know that pain relief is not far.
  4. Strengthen Your Core

    Your core muscles to help support you in everything that you do. Strengthening your core helps to improve your posture, decreases lower back pain, and improves your overall stability and posture. As the creator of the Core Functional Fitness Program, I have over a decade of experience teaching and practicing functionally fit exercise. 

 

Making these small changes today will lead to a lifetime of benefits, both physically and mentally. Don’t waste any more time–start today and work on your functional body!

 

Here are some other great resources to help you get started:

Smart Ass Core 20 Minute Workout Video

Attention Truckers: Step It Up with Interval Walking

Pelvic Tilts: Best Move for Truckers with Back Pain

7 Little Changes Drivers Can Make To Improve Their Health

Choosing Healthy Fuel on the Road

Choosing Healthy Food On The Road

Choosing healthy fuel for your body is hard for anyone. It is even harder for truck drivers who are constantly on the road for days or even weeks at a time.

Eating healthy starts with you saying to yourself, “I can do this.” It’s mind over matter.

Sure, it’s easy to stop at a diner, truck stop, or fast food restaurant to grab a bite to eat.  These places are quick and convenient AND they are EVERYWHERE! However, the majority of food at these places is high in calories, fat, and sodium–none of the things that are going to help you improve your health. Not only is this food pretty unhealthy, but it can also be expensive, too!

The good news is that YOU have the ability to choose what you put into your body. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated–it’s just a matter of choosing the RIGHT FOODS and a little planning. 

These FIVE snack ideas require a minimal amount or no preparation time at all. They are perfect for the busy trucker who is constantly on the road. 

 

1. Fruit

 

The possibilities are endless:

  • Apples
  • bananas
  • oranges
  • grapes
  • berries

Some fruit may require extra storage or preparation, however, it’s a super simple option that is readily available at most rest stops. And when you are worried about sugar, remember “berries are best”.

 

2. Vegetables

 

Vegetables are super easy options that require little to no prep time.

  • Carrots
  • celery
  • cucumbers
  • cherry tomatoes
  • peppers

Adding hummus to the mix also gives you an extra boost of protein which will help keep you feeling full for a longer period of time.

 

3. Hard-Boiled Eggs

 

Before you’re about to head out on the road, boil some eggs, peel them once they cool, and then wrap them in plastic wrap before putting them into a container. Right before it’s time to leave, load the container up with ice and throw it into a cooler. It’s that easy! BONUS: Don’t want to make them yourself? No worries. Most truck stops sell pre-cooked eggs in their refrigerated section.

 

4. Mixed Nuts

 

Nuts are nutritional powerhouses are packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. The best part: most places sell nuts that are pre-packaged and ready to go! No prep necessary! And when possible look for raw, and watch the salt content in some mixes.

 

5. Protein/Energy Bars

 

Choose a brand that has whole grains, is high in protein and fiber, has a low amount of sugar and is in the moderate calorie range. Protein/Energy bars are available almost anywhere you stop so they are another great grab and go option! Stay away from brands like Cliff or Luna as they are made with soy. We love Enduro Bites made in Colorado, and SoLo Glycemic Nutrition Bar, and my favorite the GFB – Gluten Free Bar

 

Choosing healthy food on the road takes practice, but the benefits are definitely worth it! 

 

Here are some other great recipes for you to try!

Healthy and Simple Recipes for Truckers

The Best Healthy Trucker Travel Lunch Recipe

The Best Granola Recipe: Truckers Travel Breakfast

Egg in a Basket (Egg in an Avocado)

Easy Mongolian Beef Made on the Truck

StayFit Days with Hope Zvara and TA Petro

StayFit Days with TA Petro and Mother Trucker Yoga

StayFit this year! 2020 is here and we are sure goals for this year are rolling alongside the new decade! Mother Trucker Yoga together with TA Petro want to help you reach them by coming to you.

We at Mother Trucker Yoga would like to invite you to join our CEO Hope Zvara as she joins TA Petro as their 2020 StayFit Ambassador for the new year!

What does this mean?

It means Hope is coming to you at various TA Petro tuck stop locations throughout 2020 offering one-to-one coaching and various trucker fitness centered workshops. And these offerings are 100% free.

“At Mother Trucker Yoga we believe that this is a step in the right direction. These truck stops have fitness amenities and they are under utilized. I believe you don’t get to complain about not having options if you aren’t using the options in front of you. But at the same time recognize the frustration when you don’t know where to start, and feel overwhelmed or even embarrassed (as many usually won’t admit) when it comes to taking advantage of these offerings.” – Hope Zvara, CEO of Mother Trucker Yoga

Join Hope for an hour workshop or hang out with her all day! You decide!

  • Wondering about the best food choices?
  • What exercises in the fitness center to start with?
  • What you can do to get rid of that pain in your butt, back or neck?
  • How to stretch?
  • Stress Relief?
  • What exercises you can do in your truck? She’s got you covered!
  • TA Petro and there StayFit programming offers you- the driver opportunities to improve your health. TA Petro has more than 20 locations with fitness centers and 120 sites with mapped walking trails.

StayFit Fitness Rooms are free to use for any driver. The following equipment is available for drivers any time of day:

  • Elliptical cross-trainer;
  • Recumbent bike;
  • Dual adjustable pulley resistance equipment or an adjustable sit-up board;
  • Weight scale;
  • Folding gym mat;
  • Shelving unit for storage of gym bags while working out; and
  • Wall-mount TVs and fans.

Mark your calendars for the next upcoming StayFit Days TA Petro locations Hope will be at during the first quarter of 2020.

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020 – Petro Wilmington #402

—–StayFit 1-Hour Workshops: 10am & 4:30pm

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020 – TA Las Vegas #108

—–SayFit 1-Hour Workshops: 12pm & 5pm

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020 – Petro Ontario #026

—–StayFit 1-Hour Workshops: 9am & 5pm

Share this Flyer HERE

These workshops and offerings are 100% FREE to drivers!

We hope to see you there!

Pelvic Tilts Best Move For Truckers with Back pain Blog Post

Pelvic Tilts: Best Move for Truckers with Back Pain

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?

  • Standing
  • 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:

  1. Sitting in the driver’s seat of your truck, sit upright and tall. 
  2. Notice your pelvis upright (sitting bones underneath you). 
  3. Take one nice full deep breath, in and out. 
  4. Inhale, and work to arch your lower back away from the truck seat (feel your belly drop forward). 
  5. Exhale draw your navel in and round your lower back towards the seat. 
  6. 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. 
  7. Exhale and breathe out fully, rounding out your lower back. Imagine tucking your tail bone between your legs. 
  8. Repeat this for one to five minutes. As time goes on you should notice the stiffness dissolving and more mobility increasing. 

Pelvic Tilts Blog - Anterior Tilt

Pelvic Tilts Posterior Tilt Blog Post

Crossing Your Arms is Optional

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!