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4 Core Strengthening Strategies for a Stronger Body

Sitting all day can be hard on anyone’s body, but for a truck driver when the driver’s seat is your office, if you aren’t paying attention, your physical body can suffer. Trucking fitness should be an essential focus for any driver or company because without truck driver fitness, who do you have to drive those trucks?

After nearly 20 years of teaching yoga, functional fitness, and core health I have learned a thing or two when it comes to taking care of our physical bodies. And our core is essential in that. Many still think that sit-ups are a way to strengthen, slim down, and tone up the core. And it saddens me when I see other fitness leaders out there STILL RECOMMENDING THEM. If anything you learn from this blog, it’s to STOP doing sit-ups today.

And before you start to work out or add core strengthening exercises understanding where your core is and what it does is necessary for life fitness goals like reducing pain, improving mobility, and feeling good again.

Here are four of my core strengthening strategies for better trucking fitness.

Your core starts at the floor.

Cueing your core is simple once you know where it is and what it should feel like when it’s idling and in full swing. I used to ride on the coined cue “navel to spine” but as I have described in past videos and posts talking about the core, that cue is detrimental to the spine and creates a downward spiral of instability. Take a moment to think about and imagine that your body is a balloon. Take one hand and squeeze the balloon in the middle. Whether or not you have a balloon in your hand I bet you can imagine what happens. The two ends get pushed out and forced away from the center and the middle is small and pinched (weak). When you suck your navel to your spine you are a balloon squeezed in the middle walking about trying to be stable. Now throw some of your extreme exercise or poor posture into the mix and you have yourself some back issues (and probably digestive ones too).

So where exactly does our core start? I’ll give you a hint; look lower than your belly button. If you guessed your feet you are right! Our feet are the bottom of the core, and where it all begins. Having healthy feet is essential in order to cultivate a healthy core and a healthy framework for your body to stand, squat, reach and bend better.

 

And if our core begins at our feet, we have to treat our feet as an important tool for healthy, functional, and effective core work. One of the reasons I teach barefooted is because, How can you work your feet (core) if they are stuffed in shoes? It’s like trying to strengthen your arm in your cast, and even after it is all healed you still continue to wear the cast and expect those muscles to wake up and start working. For many of us our feet have spent most of our lives in casts: fluffy, padded, high heeled (and I’m not just talking women’s heels) shoes. I get it, good marketing and advertisements play a huge role in this myth that fancy shoes are the cure-all, but sadly this is far from the truth.

It’s time to take a closer look at our core structure and learn to move with greater efficiency and less pain. Apply my 4 house building cues below and start rebuilding your body from the foundation up and have better trucking fitness.

#1: THE FOUNDATION

If your feet have issues, there is a good chance that other parts of your body (including your core!) will have problems in the future or already do. Like a house, this is the rebar and footings in your foundation.

So considering our core starts at the feet, it only makes sense to start our work there. On your journey to your core, consider waking up your feet each day; try taking off your shoes for starters, and start to use your atrophied muscles. Think about possibly rolling out your feet with an acuball or tennis ball, stretching your calves, and moving your toes. Think of this stimulation as rebooting the circuit board in your physical body for effective amp usage. (Here’s a few BOSU Elite foot strengthening exercises to check out as well) Building a solid foundation is essential for better trucking fitness no matter what your age is.

#2: THE WALLS

The trail between your feet and pelvis determines whether or not your body has to take the highway or country road to get where it’s going and let’s hope there isn’t a fallen tree in the way. Like a house, this is the vertical rebar and poured walls that keep the house above the sound.

What starts at your feet travels up your inner leg line into your pelvic floor. Understanding neutral is vital to the health and harmony of your core. When standing, scan the following checkpoints as a basic rule of thumb for healthy foot and leg neutral.

  • Outer edges of your feet parallel with outer edges of your mat (or in line with the sides of the room)
  • Vertical fold lines on the backs of the knees point straight back (be ready for things to feel really weird)
  • Pelvis in neutral, this means pubis and ASIS (anterior superior iliac spine), the bony front hip points stack and run parallel with the front wall

This may feel really awkward, especially if you have spent most of your life twisted and misaligned, your muscles have created memory and I’m pretty sure your shoes have either masked or helped this cause. Take a breath and see this realignment as core training and an exercise in itself.

#3: THE FLOORING

Your pelvic floor needs to be acknowledged and accessed for healthy core stability above. Your pelvic floor is the bottom floor of your house above, if it’s faulty or overlooked, it doesn’t matter what color you paint it, that house is no good.

Imagine if the floor of your house had a hole in it, after a while that hole in the floor would get annoying, and ultimately things would start to fall through, get stuck, or start to crumble. I encourage all my students to get to know this area first. It’s not that we just squeeze and hope for the best, but rather create an awareness of our actual pelvic floor and what it feels like. For many, truck driver or not, this area is dead, turned off as if the wires to the ground floor of your house have been cut or installed incorrectly. The good news is you can rewire them with work. I’ve seen it done on a vast number of individuals, ones who thought it was a lost cause, ones with extreme pelvic floor dysfunction and even pain.

Let’s start with the basics, draw awareness to the bony landmarks: pubis bone, sits bones, and tailbone, within these markings is your pelvic floor. Consider working to contract this area in various positions to see what works best and what needs work, and to see how effective are you from back to front contracting (anal sphincter, vaginal passageway, or soft tissue behind the scrotum, and urethra -controlling the bladder). Which area contracts, which area is miswiredWhat areas are you compensating for by squeezing the glutes instead? Think pelvic floor engages first, then glutes engage for better stability and function. As you become more effective here, that contraction upwards turns into stability inwards, meaning you should feel a contraction in your font lower belly, and that contraction is stimulated from within, not by drawing your navel to your spine.

#4: THE ROOFING

Your rib cage is like the roof for your house, if it’s crooked or off-centered you can expect your shingles, chimney, or dormers (meaning upper back, shoulders, and neck) to have issues eventually too.

In brief, when the rib cage is not stacked properly above your pelvis, your core is thrown off. For many, splaying of the front rib cage is a huge problem. Not only does it lead to the rectus abdominis (our 6 pack muscle as we know it) being overstretched and our back muscles being shortened, but this can also result in or lead to issues with a tightening of the psoas, which can cause problems when it comes to working the pelvic floor.

So the next time you go to work your core, start with the floor and work your way up. The reality is to properly work our core muscles there is some realigning we have to do, and several new roads that need paving in order to move and breathe pain-free and effectively. When our bodies are put in proper alignment we not only have reduced pain, we also recruit the right muscles to do their designated jobs and function more efficiently both on and off the mat, in all we do.

My husband may build and remodel houses for a living, but I get to help build up and rebuild people’s bodies that go to live in those houses. And these are just a few strategies to help you build better trucking fitness and a stronger core.

If you are ready to take the next steps to build a stronger, more stable, and sleek core with no sit-ups, join me in my 5 Minutes to Fit™ Program that will take you from where you are to where you want to be in just minutes a day!

5 Minutes to Fit Tighten and Tone Core Re-H-Ab Fitness Program Mother Trucker Yoga

Best Core Exercises for Truck Drivers

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Best Truck Driver Fitness Core Exercises When You Don’t Have a Lot of Time.

When it comes to driver exercises, and truck driver fitness, it’s time to update yourself, no more sit-ups, there is a better way. 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!

How Truck Driver Fitness Can Help.

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. And truck driver fitness is a thing and you want to be a part of it.

Why Not Sit-Ups for Truck Driver Fitness?

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 driver 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 to 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 Driver Exercises to Strengthen A Truckers Core:

Driver Exercises #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 on 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.
  10. Try this on our mini ball for 10x more core activation.

Core Exercise for Truck Driver Fitness Mother Trucker yoga Blog

Driver Exercises #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 a 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.
  11. Try this move with our mini ball behind your back for 10x the core activation.

Oblique Weighted Twist Core Driver Exercise Mother Trucker yoga Blog Post

Driver Exercises #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 Driver Exercise for the core Truckers Mother Trucker Yoga Blog Post

Driver Exercises #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 exercises mother trucker yoga blog post

weighted core full extension Driver exercise 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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Stiff Mother Trucker Pain Relief Cream for Truck Driver Fitness Mother Trucker yoga Blog

10 Tips for a Functional Body

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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