Article Reviewed & Updated on 9/07/2022
Medical Reviewer: Kari Haberman
Most adults spend a lot of time in their cars. Driving to and from work, errands, social events – it all adds up. But for many people, driving can be uncomfortable or even painful.
If you're struggling with knee pain while behind the wheel, don't worry – we have some solutions for you! Read on for seven ways to ease your discomfort while driving.
Why Do Knees Hurt After Driving?
Driving can put a lot of pressure on your knees. When you push the gas and brake pedals, your knee works hard to help you turn and stop – pretty much like an invisible handbrake.
Over time, this motion can irritate the tendons and other tissues around the joints, causing inflammation and pain.
If you're feeling discomfort behind the wheel, it could be due to any one (or more) of the following factors:
- Repetitive movement for extended periods of time
- Injury or strain from other causes (such as sports injuries or auto accidents)
- Improper fit between your car seat and steering wheel
- Knee misalignment (lack of symmetry between left and right knee joints)
Knee discomfort can be caused by a number of factors, including those listed above.
Can Driving Cause Knee Pain on Long Distance Drives?
Here is another common question regarding knee pain while driving: Can driving cause knee pain on long-distance drives?
Yes. If you have knee pain or discomfort when driving, it can seem even worse after long hours behind the wheel. This makes sense – if you sit for long periods of time in a stressful position, muscle tightness and fatigue are inevitable.
Fatigue can cause muscles to tense up, which results in more strain on joints. It's also worth noting that there is an increased risk for blood clots with prolonged sitting due to reduced movement of the legs. So if your knees hurt while driving long distances regularly, don't worry – there are ways to minimize this!
What is Gas Pedal Knee? Symptoms & How to Stop It
Gas pedal knee...ever heard about it? A gas pedal knee is a type of knee pain that occurs when a person drives for a long time without changing the position of their legs.
It is caused by constant overstretching and trauma to knee ligaments due to prolonged pressure from your car's gas pedal.
What are the symptoms of a gas pedal knee?
The symptoms include swelling, stiffness, cramping or even temporary numbness in the front inside part of the lower leg. Especially if you have tried any remedy for ten days continuously and found no improvement in your knee feeling itchy so, consult with your family doctor at once.
How to stop gas pedal knee?
The solution is simple as long as your gas pedal knee is not yet severe -- just take a break, get up, and stretch when driving! Continue reading below to know more about preventing knee pain when driving.
How to Prevent Knee Pain While Driving - 7 Tips
Are you one of those individuals who suffer from knee pain every time you drive? If so, you're not alone.
Many people experience knee pain when they drive, especially if they have to sit in the same position for a long period of time. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help stop the pain. Here are seven tips that may help:
1. Check the height and adjustment of your seat, including your steering wheel.
Make sure your seat is at the correct height and that your steering wheel is adjusted properly. You don't want to be reaching too high or too low when you're driving.
If your seat is too high or low, you may experience pain behind your knee. It may start in the knee, but it can also cause discomfort and tension in the hip and back. Tension can then build up and cause you to experience pain in other areas.
You don't want to move too far away from the driver's seat – just enough to give yourself a quick break and stretch those muscles that have been in one position for hours on end.
A good rule of thumb is that your knee should be slightly bent when you're at rest. Your elbow shouldn't have to extend more than a few inches from your body when you're holding the steering wheel.
If your feet are killing you when you're at the wheel, adjust the pedals by moving them closer or further away from your body. This will help stretch out the muscles in your legs and lower back where the pain is emanating from.
Make sure that when they are resting on the floor, if they are too close/far away from the pedal, so it doesn't interfere with how far apart your legs are while driving.
If your car doesn't offer a lot of options when it comes to seat adjustment, just get a car with adjustable seats next time if you can afford it.
Not only do these types of vehicle seats allow you to adjust for leg length (i.e., the seat goes closer or farther away from the pedal), they also provide more flexibility in terms of moving backwards & forwards, front & back etc.
2. Use a car wedge cushion or pillow.
When you drive, tension starts building up, and your knee joint gets tired, making it painful to drive. This is especially true when you're in a car seat for a long period of time.
And even though you have adjusted the seat and the steering wheel at the best possible position, sometimes, it may still feel uncomfortable.
The best solution for this problem is to try using a wedge cushion such as the ComfiLumba Car Wedge Cushion (with Leg Extender). This is a great seat cushion designed with gel infused memory foam.
Unlike other seat cushions which are too high under the legs and can cause pressure on your thighs, the Comfilumba cushion front end tapers off to 1" under your legs. This prevents any uncomfortable pressure from building up.
Plus, if you need even more leg support, the leg extender gives you an additional 3.5" of knee & leg support. With its soft and comfortable design, this cushion will help alleviate stress behind your knees, soreness, numbness and tingling - ensuring that every drive is a comfortable one.
The ComfiLumba Car Seat Cushion is the perfect way to reduce spinal pressure, stay comfortable, and prevent knee pain after driving long distances. The leg extender provides added knee and leg support, and the cushion's unique shape ensures that it will always retain its form.
3. Take care of your feet.
Sitting on the car seat for long periods of time can leave you feeling tired, with your feet aching. You want to make sure that you take care of them by using a good foot rest to elevate your feet.
Wear appropriate and comfortable footwear
When you are behind the wheel, make sure your shoes aren't too tight or uncomfortable. They shouldn't add any extra pressure or discomfort to your legs or knees.
So if you're looking for relief from knee pain while driving, then these seven ways are good tips that can help prevent it! Just remember to drive safely at all times, though!
That being said, avoid wearing tight shoes if possible because this compresses the toe joints, making it hard for toes to move around naturally within shoes.
Get a foot and leg massage.
Ever tried getting a massage? They are relaxing and great for the body. It is also a good idea to get your legs and feet massaged regularly if you plan on driving often.
This can help reduce muscle tension, which in turn decreases knee pain during car rides. Leg massagers are available at affordable prices these days, so there's no excuse not to pamper yourself once in a while!
4. Take breaks often to move around.
And make sure to take breaks every couple of hours. Get up and walk around, or move your legs in circular motions, etc.
You want to avoid locking your knees when you sit down because this puts strain on the knee joint. Also, avoid crossing one leg over another since this also puts added pressure around the knee joint.
As much as possible, try not to sit still for too long during car rides - keep moving! And, if possible, drive with someone else who can take over the driving from time to time.
Stretch before and after driving
A good stretch before and after driving will keep the knee from getting tired, allow you to concentrate on the road, and prevent any pain.
It's a good idea to stretch before driving because this helps warm up your muscles and joints, thus preventing injuries. And after you have driven for a certain period of time, stretching also prevents strain on your legs and back that can lead to pain later.
Stretch out your leg muscles as far as possible to avoid locking the knees while sitting in a car seat for too long. But don't overdo it. Your knees will thank you!
Change positions while driving.
When we say change positions, avoid slouching, and sit up straight. It may be challenging because when you are sitting down, it is easy to slouch down and slump on the chair.
If you drive long distances, consider getting out of the car every so often for short stretches. Get up, walk around, even do some simple stretches like touching your toes or lifting one leg behind you with both hands.
Try not to let your knees lock when sitting.
If you find yourself locking your knees while sitting, try not doing that because locked knees put stress on the knee cap and cause pain. Also, avoid crossing one leg over another since this also puts added pressure around the knee joint.
As long as you change positions often, making sure that the knee joint is not locked in one position for too long, it'll be fine!
You can lean forward or backward to stretch different muscle groups and take your mind off the knee pain. This will aid in lessening the strain on your back and reduce knee pain when driving.
5. Exercise or do some yoga poses in your free time.
It's a good way to keep your body active in between your driving bouts. By doing this, you can improve the strength of your back, legs, and other muscles in your body. This way, when you go back to driving again, the strain on your muscles will be lessened.
Focus on doing leg, feet, and back exercises but don't overdo it. Do a couple of exercises every day and do the stretches before driving to make sure you're not going to get any pain.
6. Try drinking apple cider vinegar, but not too much.
Apple cider vinegar is widely known for its many health benefits such as reducing blood sugar levels, aiding weight loss, lowering cholesterol, curing heartburn etc.
However, it's also beneficial for arthritis sufferers since it reduces swelling around joints - including the knee joint. To relieve knee pain when driving, drink one or two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar mixed
7. Get regular checkups at your doctor's office.
Regular checkups are very crucial if you want to ensure that there is nothing serious that may be causing knee pain when driving. It's always good to be aware of symptoms so you know what might need medication or surgery later on down the road. Prevention is always key.
What should I do if my pain is severe enough to prevent me from getting into a car?
Here's another frequent knee problem during driving concern: "What should I do if my pain is severe enough to prevent me from getting into a car?"
If you can't get into the car and your knee pain seems worse than before, the first thing you should do is to visit your doctor. The reason for knee pain is not limited to the factors listed above. It could be injury or arthritis.
If it is arthritis, remember that it may worsen over time, and you may need a referral to a pain management clinic.
In addition, here is some fact, there is a continuous increase in the demand for knee replacement surgery. Why? The answer is simple: people are living longer thanks to increased medical care and healthier lifestyles.
At least 50% of the population aged 45-64 years old has some degree of knee arthritis, according to research studies from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Even if your knee pain does not prevent you from driving, don't ignore it. Visit your doctor today! Your knees will thank you later on down the road when they're not sore while driving!
Don't let knee pain defeat you!
Do not let knee pain get in the way of the important things in life – like spending quality time with friends and family or getting out of town for that much-needed vacation. We hope these tips were helpful! Drive safely and take care!