Ways to Prevent Knee Pain While Driving - Driver's License and Testing Blog - Driven2Drive

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Ways to Prevent Knee Pain While Driving

Marie-Claire De Villiers
By Marie-Claire De Villiers
Joel Taylor
Reviewed by Joel Taylor

Published July 31, 2022.

Person sitting in car holding their knee in pain

Some drivers are surprised that driving can cause knee pain. Sitting and driving your car can be stressful on your joints, especially on a long trip or when you're moving slowly in stop-start traffic, which is why truck drivers also tend to complain of severe knee pain. Pain can be dangerous as it is distracting, affecting your safe driving and ability to focus on the road.

Additionally, your knee could become too painful to move correctly, preventing you from operating the clutch, brake, and accelerator pedals effectively. In this discussion, we describe some ways to adjust your body and your car seat to avoid knee pain while driving.

Causes of Knee Pain While Driving

The two main causes of pain in your knees while driving are poor posture and spending too much time sitting with limited mobility.

Driving long distances can restrict your movement and cause repetitive strain injuries in the knee joints. Driving in adverse conditions like rain or snow, or in the dark, may tense up your whole body and require more foot pressure and small repeated movements. If you're tall and have long legs, you may be sitting with one leg splayed to the side, straining the knee joint while you rest the foot off the clutch pedal.

Ways to Deal With Knee Pain While Driving

First, align your body correctly in the car so that you are seated comfortably. When your hips are not aligned with your knees, this sets up hip pain and also increases the strain on the knees while operating the pedals.

The car seat should be horizontal so that your knee is not higher than your hip to prevent hip pain from developing. But, this foundation of a horizontal seat also allows you to position your lower legs and rest your feet on the pedals comfortably. The lower legs should be at an angle of not more than 20 to 30 degrees from the knee, and the backs of the knees should also be clear of the edge of the car seat so that they can move freely.

Exercises to Strengthen Your Knees

Several exercises can be done to strengthen the knee joint and make it easier to deal with knee pain:

  • Bend down to touch your toes, holding the stretch for ten seconds a few times per day.
  • Do quad stretches, first from a standing position, then from a lower bent-knee position.
  • Stretch the calf with a kneeling calf stretch, like a lunge.
  • Squat as low as possible, holding your body weight in position for up to ten seconds.

How to Change Your Seat to Avoid Knee Pain

The second way to deal with knee pain while driving is to adjust your car seat before you start. Raise the seat so that your knees are in line with your hips, not higher than your hips.

The bottom of the seat should be horizontal. If it has a sloping structure, then add a cushion to provide a level surface to sit on, as this will affect the way you use the pedals. When seated, your feet should be parallel to your knees so that your heels are resting on the floor. Your feet should reach the pedals so that you use the balls of your feet to press them.

Ways to Prevent Knee Pain From Occurring in the Future

Make the correct movements with your feet to avoid straining your knees. The right foot should be able to move easily between the accelerator and brake pedal, and the left foot should be resting beneath the clutch pedal, not splayed to the side.

When learning automatic car driving, this support pedal for the foot is a useful resting spot. The heel of the foot then rests a little way in front of the brake pedal. When your feet are aligned parallel to your knees, they should rest easily on the pedals. To accelerate, simply move the angle of your foot down to increase pressure on the accelerator.

Being a New Driver With Knee Pain

When you're a new driver, you can benefit from tips for new drivers. Rather than simply accepting knee pain, you should attend to your body's comfort and alignment. If you place your body correctly and start a habit of good posture in the driver's seat, you may avoid knee pain in the future. Getting used to long trips or stop-start traffic shouldn't mean knee pain. Review your previous simple driving lessons and consider taking a course in defensive driving to ensure that you follow the correct maneuvers.

If you still have persistent knee pain, consult your doctor.

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