Driving is a common activity for most of us, but it can also be the cause of leg pain. Leg pain can be one of the most distracting and uncomfortable sensations, especially while driving. It can cause you to feel restless and make it challenging to focus on the road ahead. In this blog we will discuss common causes of leg pain while driving and offer simple solutions to minimize or prevent pain.
*This is not medical advice. Consult with a medical professional for medical advice.
Prolonged sitting can lead to poor blood circulation in your legs, causing leg pain and discomfort. When you sit for too long, your blood vessels can become compressed, reducing blood flow to your legs.1 Poor circulation can also occur if you are wearing tight clothes or seats with hard and non-breathable material. To improve blood circulation, make sure to wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothes. Adjust your seat position regularly and stretch your legs to help stimulate blood flow.
Sciatica is a condition that occurs when the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back through the buttock and down the leg, becomes compressed or irritated. The sciatic nerve can be compressed where it exits the lower spine, or under the piriformis muscle in the buttocks. Sciatica can cause shooting pains down the leg, numbness, and tingling sensations.2
Lower spine origin
It’s important to consider your driving posture and make sure that the curve of your lower back is not flattened due to a slouched posture. This posture compresses the discs which can irritate the sciatic nerve, causing radiating pain down the leg. Try reclining the seat 5 degrees and place a small pillow or rolled up towel behind the pelvis (below the lumbar area). Supporting the pelvis will promote an upright posture which will result in a healthy lumbar curve, and decrease the risk of disc compression that can irritate the sciatic nerve.
A common position to fall into when sitting in a bucket seat is for the legs to rotate outwards or inwards. Either of these postures for long periods can irritate the piriformis muscle which in turn will irritate the sciatic nerve. Think about how your legs are positioned and find ways to keep them aligned, depending on the contours of the bucket seat. You can use a rolled-up towel or even a tennis ball to keep them from rotating.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT):
DVT is a blood circulation disorder that can occur due to long drives. It happens when blood clots form in the deep veins of your leg, leading to leg pain, swelling, and redness. These blood clots can break free and travel through the bloodstream, causing a life-threatening condition.3 To reduce the risk of DVT, make sure to take breaks regularly and stretch your legs. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine since they can cause dehydration and increase the risk of blood clots.
As you can see, leg pain while driving can be caused by various factors. Simply paying attention to your posture and leg position while driving can make all the difference. Using simple positioning strategies and taking rest breaks can make leg pain during long drives a thing of the past.
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