5 Exercises for Driving Long Distances to Avoid Knee, Leg & Foot Pain

Aug 26, 2021

Peyton Lane

by Peyton Lane

Heading out on a long-distance road trip sometime soon? As exciting as road trips can be, we know the effect that sitting in a cramped space (especially for prolonged periods of time) can have on people! In addition to the headaches you may get from constantly hearing, “Are we there yet?” the most common complaints people have on road trips include knee and foot pain from putting that pedal to the metal.

This pain, commonly referred to as gas pedal knee or gas pedal foot pain, can be prevented with easy movements that you can do at rest stops along the way or once you arrive at your destination to ease the discomfort.

Here are 5 quick, easy exercises and stretching techniques for drivers to get you primed for a good time!

1. Windmills

These aren’t just a sight to see along the way! For a good leg and low back stretch, place your foot out in front of you or on the side rail of your car, extend your arms, lean forward and alternate reaching to the inside and outside of the foot. In addition to loosening up the leg – it may even re-charge you a bit!

Peyton Lane, PT, DPT showing Windmill exercise.

2. Ankle ABC’s

If you haven’t gotten your fill of the alphabet with the license plate game or if you’re missing that one rare letter, try spelling out the alphabet A-Z with your gas pedal foot (not while driving of course!) Make sure you move slowly and controlled to get better muscle activation.

Peyton Lane performing Ankle ABCs

 

3. Squats with a Heel Raise

After sitting for so long, it can be hard to get moving again because of leg pain. Pretend like you’re sitting into a chair and squat, putting your weight through those heels. As you stand back up, shift your weight towards your toes and add in an extra heel raise for a full leg workout!

Peyton Lane showing squat stretch

4. The “Oh No!” Handle Stretch

This handle can be used for more than just hanging clothes or a lifeline for front seat drivers! Standing at the side of the car, reach for that handle with both hands and then lean your hips away from car for a good full body stretch.

5. Yoga

Yoga is another great activity to prevent stiffness and soreness from long car rides. There are dozens of great yoga poses that stretch the legs, hips, knees, feet, and other hot spots for pain after driving long distances. If you don’t have the time or feel like committing to a full yoga flow, try the following 4 poses before and during your road trip.

1. Child’s Pose 

How To Do It

  • Starting on the hands and knees, sink your hips back onto the heels, dropping your chest into the space between your knees.
  • Arms and hands are extended in front of you with your arms beside your ears.
  • Allow your body to relax as you fall sag into your legs.
  • Take several deep breathes, and hold this pose for 2 minutes or longer.

2. Malasana

How To Do It

  • Start by standing with your feet a little bit wider than your hips, and your toes slightly turned out.
  • Exhale as squat your hips low to bring the torso in between your legs (engage your core to avoid rounding your back).
  • Bring your hands to your heart.
  • If you want to make this more challenging, you can gently press your elbows against the inside of your legs.
  • Take at least 5 deep breaths here and then inhale as you stand up.

3. Downward-Facing Dog 

How To Do It

  • Start on your hands and knees. Lift your hips and behind towards the ceiling, drop your head down, keeping your arms close to your ears.
  • Bend your knees to tilt your pelvis slightly forward. Rock back and forth on each foot, stretching the achilles tendon.
  • Intuitively move your body through any variations that feel appropriate for 1 minute or longer.

3. Crossed Leg Forward Bend

How To Do It

  • Begin seated with your legs crossed in front of you.
  • Your feet should be in line with your hips, and your little toe connected to the ground.
  • Reach your arms forward and place the hands out on the floor in front of you.
  • Stretch out with your palms flat on the ground, as far forward as you comfortably can.
  • Come back up, cross your legs the opposite way and repeat.

 

Enjoy your trip! If you have pain that won’t go away, schedule a free injury consultation at one of our Arizona locations today. Our highly trained staff has expertise in a vast number of areas and they can help you with any pain or injury you might be suffering from.

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