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Everyone can benefit from a good stretching program, but for truckers it can drastically reduce the discomfort of long-distance driving, says Stew Smith, a former Navy SEAL and personal trainer. He recommends that anyone looking to start a fitness regimen — or just ease the everyday aches and pains of driving — start with a basic, daily 5-10 minute stretching routine.
“For truckers sitting for long periods of time and getting bounced around in their seats, their lower back and hamstrings are really going to be tight,” Smith says. “Before you jump into an exercise program like lifting weights or running, you need to be more pliable. I would have you stretch first for a week to 10 days. You never want the first week to be painful to the point where you never want to do it again.” Include the following exercises from Smith’s stretching/strengthening plan when you warm up and cool down from a workout, or whenever your tired muscles need a break.
Hamstring Stretch #1
In a standing position with your feet together, bend forward at the waist and reach for your toes, keeping your back straight. Don’t worry if you can’t touch your toes — you’re still getting a great stretch. Gently bend your knees slightly, then slowly straighten. Repeat. You should feel this in the back of your thighs.
Hamstring Stretch #2
Stand with your legs apart and reach down to touch the floor, bending your knees if necessary. Hold for 10 seconds, then try to straighten your legs as much as possible.
Sit on the ground. Bend one leg in front of you so that the bottom of your foot touches the inside of the opposite thigh. Lean forward and feel the stretch in your legs and lower back. Switch legs and repeat. For an additional stretch, you can bend the extended leg behind you at a 90-degree angle.
Sit on the ground with your legs in front of you, bringing the bottom of your feet together. Feel the stretch as you gently try to open your legs further. Then extend your feet forward 12 inches, keeping your legs in the same position. Lean forward.
Lie on your back, bringing both knees into your chest. Cross one leg over the other so that the ankle of one leg touches the knee of the other. With both arms, pull your lower leg toward you and hold. Switch legs and repeat.
• Hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds each.
• Do not bounce when stretching.
• Inhale and exhale deeply while holding the stretch.
Meet Stew Smith
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL who now works as a personal trainer for military personnel, law enforcement, or anyone who wants to get in shape! He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) as designated by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He has authored several books, including The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness, The TV Watcher’s Workout, and The SWAT Workout. Visit his website, www.stewsmith.com, for downloadable workout and eating plans.