Have you ever felt knee pain after driving for several hours? It starts out as an ache, then turns into a sharp, unrelenting stabbing pain and by the time you stop and get out to stretch your legs, it’s nearly unbearable. And if you have to make that same drive day after day, that temporary discomfort may take on a more permanent and irritating presence known as drivers knee. Below, we’ll walk you through some ways to fix this issue and stay healthy as a truck driver.
What is Drivers Knee?
Drivers knee is known by many names such as gas pedal knee, truckers knee, and jumpers knee. From a physiological standpoint, the effects on your knee are similar to what occurs with tennis elbow or writer's cramp. In medical language, this type of knee pain is attributed to a condition called patellar tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendon connecting the shin to the knee.
Causes of Drivers Knee
Drivers knee is a repetitive use injury caused by pressing the gas, brake or clutch with bad positioning of the foot; causing strain on the tendon connecting to the knee. As with other repetitive use injuries such as rotator cuff tears and carpal tunnel syndrome, if drivers knee is left untreated, the problem can get worse. What starts as patellar tendonitis may progress to a condition known as chondromalacia patella, a deterioration of the cartilage in your knee that leads to even more pain and the potential for mobility loss.
Exercises to Prevent and Relieve Knee Pain While Driving
If you are suffering from persistent or worsening knee pain caused by driving it is important to consult your doctor or physician to avoid risking a more serious injury.
These stretches and exercises can help alleviate the temporary pain caused by drivers' knee and the demands of life as a truck driver. However, if you find the pain persists or continues to worsen, please consult with your doctor or physician.
When it is safe to do so, preferably when you are at a stop, extend your seat back until your leg is almost straight. This position will force your ankle to bend to operate the pedals and may help alleviate the pain temporarily.
Here is a list of some stretches and warm up exercises you can do before you begin driving for the day and after you’ve reached your destination:
- Touch your toes and hold that position for ten seconds
- In either a standing or kneeling position, perform a quad stretch
- Swing each leg in a figure 8 pattern using a smooth, steady motion
- Perform a kneeling calf stretch (similar to a lunge)
- Perform bodyweight squats and try to hold the position for a few seconds
- Perform bodyweight calf raises, with arms raised, lift upon to your toes and hold for a few seconds
In addition to these exercises, it’s always helpful to stop when possible, walk for a few minutes, and overall, eat healthy as a truck driver to lessen any aches.
- Ensure proper seat positioning and support to maintain a neutral spine and reduce knee strain.
- Use seat cushions and back supports that provide adequate padding and help distribute pressure evenly.
- Adjust the seat height and angle for a comfortable position for proper leg alignment.
Regular breaks and stretches
- Take short breaks every 1-2 hours to stretch the legs and alleviate tension in the knee joint.
- Perform simple exercises like leg extensions, hamstring, and quadriceps stretches to improve flexibility and reduce stiffness.
- Engage in exercises that target the muscles around the knee, such as leg presses, squats, lunges, and calf raises.
- Gradually increase the intensity and duration of the exercises to improve knee stability and reduce the risk of future injuries.
Cold and heat therapy
- Apply cold packs or ice wrapped in a cloth to the affected knee for 15-20 minutes to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
- Use heat therapy, such as warm compresses or heating pads, to relax the muscles and promote blood flow before engaging in exercises or stretches.
- Invest in comfortable and supportive shoes that provide cushioning and proper arch support to minimize the impact on the knees during driving.
Maintain a healthy weight
- Excess weight can put additional stress on the knees, worsening the truck driver's knee symptoms. Maintain a balanced diet and exercise regularly to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Consult a healthcare professional
- If the pain and discomfort persist or worsen despite self-care efforts, it is crucial to seek medical advice. A healthcare professional can thoroughly evaluate and recommend appropriate treatments or therapies tailored to the individual's needs.
Truck driver's knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome, is a common condition affecting truck drivers due to their work. However, drivers can effectively manage and prevent truck drivers' knees by implementing ergonomic adjustments, taking regular breaks, performing stretching and strengthening exercises, and seeking medical advice when necessary. Prioritizing knee health is essential for maintaining overall well-being and ensuring a comfortable and productive driving experience.