Many food truck operators joke about where to park their truck on a regular basis. I have heard some say, “Park them within walking distance of an emergency room.” Food truck workers normally get cuts, stitches, and burns. However the risks of being a mobile chef include a lot more than sharp knives and fire. A recent study of more than 900 restaurant workers (ages 22 to 45) revealed that 53% of them have lower back pain.
Running a food truck is a very physical job. It involves going up and down stairs carrying things, loading boxes onto dollies, unloading cases of heavy food items, lots of bending and lifting. It’s not uncommon for food truck staff members to slip and fall while carrying heavy bags or large cans into the truck or kitchen cooler and freezers.
Add to that long periods of standing and counter tops that are too low or high to be ergonomically correct, and the result is frequent lower back pain, achy knees and feet that always hurt. For those who love to prepare food, the show must go on, here are a few suggestions to help prevent or alleviate lower back pain in your food truck.
Alleviating Lower Back Pain In Your Food Truck
You don’t want your employees to suffer. And you also don’t want to pay higher health care expenses as their conditions get worse.
- Good shoes are a must
- Strengthen your abs and back (core) so you can hold yourself up comfortably
- Massage, whirlpool, and hot tub soaks for aching muscles
- Back braces, such as those worn by movers and others who load heavy goods, can be helpful
- Support inserts in shoes can also help
Physical fitness is essential to being a healthy and productive chef. Life in a food truck is hard going, so it’s hugely important to keep yourself in shape. While it may be tough to work out regularly, it can be a big help in the truck, physically and mentally.
Other lower back pain tips:
- Invest in a good, anti-fatigue mat to stand on in the truck and back at your commercial kitchen
- Counters should be at the right height, so you’re not bending over or reaching up excessively
- Be aware of proper posture; don’t hunch your neck, back, or shoulders
- Occasionally rest one foot on a low stool or shelf to give your back a break
- Change tasks frequently to avoid repetitive stress.
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Stretch Out Your Lower Back
Here are two quick and easy stretches you and your employees can do that focus on strengthening the lower back and reducing the chances of pain there.
- Seated Lower Back Rotational Stretch: Sit on a stool. Cross your right leg over your left. Brace your left elbow against the outside of your right knee while twisting and stretching your right side. Hold for five deep breaths. Then repeat with the opposite leg and arm.
- Seated Lumbar Stretch: Sit in a chair with the upper back straight. Arch your lower back so your stomach sticks out. Put your hands on the bottom or back of the chair to brace yourself. Hold for five deep breaths and then relax. Arch your neck back for an added range of motion and intensity.
The Bottom Line
Bending over a counter for hours and chopping vegetables. Moving heavy boxes of frozen meat into the truck. It’s no wonder that food truck workers have a higher incidence of lower back pain than the general population.