Dubai: Fit and healthy taxi drivers help ensure a safe trip, aside from having vehicles in good condition, of course.
Taxi drivers who are free from back or joint aches and health issues due to prolonged sitting and driving are less likely to be distracted on the road. They are more alert and more properly coordinated when driving passengers around, health and fitness professionals said on Thursday.
More than 50 taxi drivers from the Dubai Taxi Corporation (DTC) learnt about how to prevent and address back and other body pains arising out of the nature of their work.
The ‘Watch Your Back’ campaign was organised by the Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery Dubai, in cooperation with the Roads and Transport Authority, at the Dubai Taxi Corporation headquarters in Muhaisnah.
“Taxi drivers and staff working in offices are at high risk for muscoskeletal disorders. They sit for a long time and they have to use their hands and legs muscles continuously so they have a repetitive movement. There is also continuous pressure on certain areas especially their backs,” Saed Al Salaymeh, Director of Training and Development and Director of Nursing at Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery Dubai told Gulf News.
DTC taxi drivers usually work 12-hour shifts, six days a week.
Many of them are unaware of the risks of prolonged sitting, Al Salaymeh said.
“It’s not only the condition of the taxi that makes a safe trip but also its drivers. Fit and healthy taxi drivers can ensure the safety of passengers. You cannot take care of others if you are not taking care of yourself. We are dealing with human lives here. He is not driving alone. He has to take care of himself and the passengers,” Al Salaymeh said
During the campaign, Adam, resident fitness trainer at Burjeel, taught the drivers simple exercises to keep their bodies fit. DTC officials also encouraged the drivers to learn the exercises so they could implement them during their break.
“The more you move, the better it is. In our body, this is the rule: use it or lose it. If you don’t use your muscles, you will lose it. If you don’t exercise it, you’ll become weak,” Burjeel’s fitness trainer told Gulf News.
Adam said consistency is key. Drivers and people who live a sedentary lifestyle or work in offices need to get up from their seats every 20 or 30 minutes.
“Our body is designed to move. That’s why we have that many muscles. We were designed by nature to move a lot, to run, to walk very long distance to find food,” Adam said.
“Exercise is the best treatment for your body. If you maintain a proper regime that includes physical activity, proper food, proper water intake, and proper amount of sleep. Then you don’t need any medicine because most diseases come when we break our proper regime.”
Mohammad Asghar Khan, 48, from Pakistan, said he learnt a lot from the campaign.
“My back pain has been coming and going. I take a break every two hours from work to stretch my back but today I learnt I need to do it every 30 minutes and that I need to exercise [specific parts of] body. I think this is good,” Khan said.
Mohammad Kuddus, 41, a diver from Bangladesh, said he walks for 30 minutes daily after his duty to release tension from his body. The simple exercises will help him deal with his back pain.
HOW TO AVOID BACK PAIN
1) Avoid prolonged sitting. Take a break and stand up every 20 to 30 minutes.
2) Lift weight by bending your knees and not your back.
3) Strengthen your muscles by moving more and targeting main areas: pelvis, abdominals and back muscles. Make sure you warm-up your muscles first before exercising. Do the stretching afterward.
1) Strengthen your core muscles.
Back and abdominal muscles work together for stabilising our vertebrae. We have to exercise abdominal muscles as well to help maintain good posture and keep our balance.
During working hours, flex your abs and hold it tight. Try to hold it for as long as you can and try to flex it hard.
For those with a tummy, the exercise is called stomach vacuum. Exhale all the air and pull your belly inward and as far back as you can and hold it there. This exercise sill strengthen your abs and it will make tummy stomach flat.
2) Take a tennis ball and roll it on your back against the chair. It will massage your muscle. For your feet, you can do the same using a golf ball. Remove your socks and press your feet against the ball while rolling it on the floor.
3) Do calf raises. Put your palm on your knees, press and try to resist as you raise your heels.
DURING THE BREAK: (Can be done twice a day)
Do squats, calf raises, and wall push-ups. They can also use their taxi to do their push-ups.
Planking, ab exercises, push-ups, bird dog, superman exercises and camel and cat exercises