Yes, You Can Get Foot Pain from Driving (No, You’re Not Alone)
Slick roads, drunk drivers and road rage aren’t the only dangers of driving—simply driving a car or truck can cause serious problems in your feet and ankles.
Being stuck behind the wheel for long hours (whether in heavy traffic, as a truck driver or on a road trip), driving a vehicle you’re not used to or a car with resistant pedals can all hurt your feet. Driving can also worsen existing foot problems and make it seem like driving was the cause.
Common types of foot and ankle pain caused by driving:
- Pain across the top of the foot
- Stiffness and pain in the ankle
- Joint pain, especially the large joint of the big toe
- Pain or bruising in the heel or up the back of the heel
- A burning sensation in your foot
If you feel pain in your foot, heel or ankle during or after driving, it’s important to determine the root of the problem and take care of your feet so you can still drive (and walk!) when you need to.
Is Driver’s Foot a Disease?
Driver’s Foot (also known as Accelerator Foot or Clutch Foot) is a condition brought on by repetitive stress.
Driver’s Foot can be caused by:
- Manual transmission
- Too much pedal resistance
- No cruise control
- Seat not adjusted properly
- Poor choice of footwear
- Too much driving
Your feet were designed for walking, not driving. The constant pressure of pushing on a tough clutch or accelerator puts stress on the muscles, joints and tendons of your feet and ankles. Over time, this pain can spread to your knees, hips and back.
Pivoting on your heel or flexing your ankle may seem like small movements, but the stress adds up over time.
Good news: there are many FREE or low-cost, conservative pain remedies you can try for relieving the pain of Driver’s Foot.
5 FREE or Low-Cost Treatments for Driver’s Foot, Ankle and Heel Pain
1. Always adjust the car seat and steering wheel to the most comfortable position possible. Driving with the seat too close to the pedals means your ankle joint gets compressed. Having the seat too low puts more pressure on the tendons at the back of your heel. Give yourself plenty of time to find the ideal distance, height and angle for your body.
2. Wear comfortable, practical shoes for driving. Unless you’re in a Flintstones car, nobody’s going to see your feet while you’re driving. Save the high heels, flip flops and burnt-out kicks for when you get where you’re going. Wear a sneaker or running shoe with plenty of cushioning and support. Leave a pair in your car so you don’t have any excuses.
3. Comfy shoes not enough? Armor up. The drugstore, superstore or online retailer of your choice has literally thousands of products to cushion or support your feet and ankles. Someone else out there has the same foot, ankle, heel or toe pain you do while driving and product reviews can be great sources of information. Find a place with a good return policy, do your research and treat your feet to some pads or inserts. You can also get custom orthotics from a podiatrist for a perfect fit.
4. Move, already. On a long haul, take breaks to walk, stretch and flex your feet and ankles. If possible, take your shoes off or do some fast foot exercises. At home after driving, get out the foot massager, foam roller or even just a tennis ball and roll your foot around on it to loosen up tight muscles and connective tissue.
Ask your podiatrist for recommended exercises to keep your feet and ankles strong and healthy, and actually do them. While you’re at it, take the time to make good food choices and get regular exercise suitable for your age and condition. Being overweight puts additional stress on your feet and ankles, and lacking certain vitamins and minerals can put you at greater risk of tendonitis and foot cramps.
5. The old standby: ice and elevate. You know the drill.
Remember: driving could be aggravating an underlying problem in your feet, ankles or heels such as plantar fasciitis, heel spurs or many other conditions. If you get the pain when you’re not driving, or if nothing seems to help, see a podiatrist for a professional evaluation. We’ll determine the underlying cause of the pain and an effective treatment.