One of the more annoying parts of being a truck driver is dealing with road vibrations. These are the bumps and shakes you feel as you’re driving, and they come from various sources, including your truck and the roughness of the road.
However, road vibrations also include whole-body vibrations, which the constant movement of the truck over roads causes. These vibrations are so small (less than 100 Hz) that you probably don’t even notice them after a while. Whether you’re driving on rough or smooth roads, whole-body vibrations occur.
Unfortunately, whole-body vibrations can cause significant health problems the longer you experience them. Discover how vibration-cancelling truck seats can improve comfort and protect your health.
What Are Vibrations?
If talking about bad vibrations sounds a little too hippie-ish, don’t worry. We’re only talking about science here. In physics, vibrations are a back-and-forth movement of objects or mediums, like the twang of a rubber band snapping into place or waves in the ocean. You can’t always see vibrations, but you can see their effects in the real world, and some of them are audible.
Just like vibrations in the earth can cause waves in the ocean to turn into a tsunami, vibrations can physically affect people and structures. As the wheels on your semi-truck push against the road with the weight of your vehicle, they create vibrations. You feel the big ones that happen when you hit a pothole, but you’re experiencing vibrations even on smooth roads.
How Vibrations Affect the Human Body
Whether you realize it or not, your whole body is vibrating right now, even if you’re just sitting down. Your heartbeat and your breathing create vibrations throughout your body. Your cells vibrate at an even smaller scale because of the molecules inside them.
Unfortunately, the vibrations that come from sitting in a truck all day are not something your body can handle without assistance. Whole-body vibrations can lead to several adverse health consequences over time, including the following:
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle tension
- Spine injuries
Increased Heart Rate
Some of the short-term effects of whole-body vibrations include anxiety, increased heart rate, and hyperventilating. It’s important to note that any of these three symptoms can cause the other two. Experts believe that whole-body vibrations trigger a sort of hypervigilance in the mind and body, which can escalate as drivers deal with traffic and navigation. It’s a vicious cycle where feeling the symptoms of anxiety can make anxiety worse.
Your muscles provide your body with natural insulation against outside vibrations in a process called dampening. They also help mitigate the effects of vibrations from within the body.
When your body senses vibrations, your muscles tense up in response to help dampen the effects. Experiencing constant vibrations means your muscles never relax. This can lead to situations like having your foot fall asleep or feeling tingly in your hands from tightly gripping the wheel for hours on end.
Like rocking a baby to sleep, low-frequency vibrations can cause drowsiness. When you combine this subtle effect with drivers who often don’t get enough sleep and drive late at night, vibrations can be deadly.
On the other hand, high-frequency vibrations can cause problems seeing the road clearly. Vibrations are powerful enough to disrupt the movement of images on the retina, making your vision appear blurry. Combine blurriness with early morning or late night bleariness, and drivers can have a significant problem seeing the road.
A spine injury is the most serious damage that can happen to a person from experiencing whole-body vibrations. In your spine, you have intervertebral discs that help absorb shocks to your body. They’re not foolproof; a constant shock to your spine can create herniated discs and microfractures, which are very painful.
When you’re driving in an old semi-truck seat, chances are your seat is hitting the floor when you go over bumps on the road. When this happens, that shock travels from the floor to your seat and then to your spine. So, both occasional bumps and constant whole-body vibrations are terrible for your body.
How Poor Posture Worsens Vibrations
To understand how posture affects vibrations on the body, you need to know a little about structural integrity. Imagine a table with four legs sitting on a boat in the ocean. When a wave comes along, the stability of the table’s design helps it stay upright. However, what happens if the table has only three legs or one central leg? When the wave comes, those tables will fall over.
Like a table, your body has an optimal posture for sitting, standing, and lying down. When you do these activities with the correct posture, your bones, muscles, and joints are stable. They don’t experience as much stress as when you use the wrong posture. If you’re sitting the wrong way when you hit a bump in the road, it can cause pain and microfractures.
What Are Vibration-Cancelling Seats?
Vibration-cancelling seats are high-quality truck driving seats that block a high percentage of whole-body vibrations. For example, GRA-MAG’s SteadyRide seats can reduce up to 67 percent of all whole-body vibrations.
Most vibration-cancelling seats are air ride seats, which get their name from the pneumatic suspension system they use in addition to mechanical suspension. Most older semi-truck seats only have mechanical suspension, which wears out over time. Because they have two kinds of suspension, air-ride seats have double the protection against vibrations.
The Benefits of Vibration-Cancelling Seats
If you think back to all the bad things that can happen because of whole-body vibrations, vibration-cancelling seats are extremely powerful. They can do the following:
- Improve vision for nighttime and early morning drivers
- Keep drivers awake
- Reduce muscle tension
- Lower anxiety and heart rate
- Prevent spine injuries
In addition to preventing many negative health consequences, vibration-cancelling truck seats can improve comfort by promoting good posture. Most of these seats have adjustable features and fresh cushioning that keep the body in a comfortable position while driving.
If you’re in the market for air ride seats for semi-trucks, check out GRA-MAG’s new SteadyRide design. Our state-of-the-art technology reduces whole-body vibrations more than any competing seat. If you want to safeguard drivers’ health and improve performance, call or email us today to learn more about putting SteadyRide seats in your entire fleet.