When Ankle Pain Drives You Crazy: How To Deal With Driver's Foot

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Believe it or not, something as simple as driving your car could be the reason for your ankle and foot pain. If you have stiff ankles, bruising on your heel, and recurring pain in your big toe or across the top of your foot, you could have a condition called driver's foot.

What Causes Driver's Foot?

Also known as "clutch foot" or "accelerator's foot, driver's foot is a repetitive stress injury (RSI) caused by driving. RSIs occur affect nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments when repetitive tasks, like driving, cause the body to overexert itself.

Even if you don't work in the transportation sector, you can still develop this problem. For instance, the Herald Sun says that people who commute in heavy traffic can develop this problem. While manual car owners suffered the most from using both legs, automatic car owners could also suffer because of pedal resistance. Since heavy traffic can cause you to accelerate and decelerate over and over, your foot muscles will constantly be tense, thus prepping you for an RSI.

Other factors that can set you up for driver's foot include

  • Traveling long distances without breaks or the use of cruise control
  • Driving with a poorly adjusted seat
  • Wearing the wrong footwear (e.g., heels, flip-flops, etc.)

How Can You Find Relief?

If you are taking a long trip, be sure to stretch and walk around whenever you need to stop for a bathroom break or gas up. Keep a tennis ball in the car to work out the plantar fascia—the ligament that connects your toes to your heel bone. While driver's foot may start out as mild irritation, it can strain your arch and turn into plantar fasciitis, a condition that causes swollen and inflamed tissue.

While flip-flops feel during hot weather, they are notorious for being bad for your feet. They provide no heel or arch cushioning and can't absorb shock from foot pedals and. Heels are no better, and they can exacerbate your heels, ankles, and calves since they force your foot into an extended position. In short, always wear comfy shoes when you are driving.

Lastly, make sure that you are adjusting your seat to your needs. If you are too close or too far from the foot pedals, your feet must compensate by overextending or over-flexing. If you're too far back, your Achilles tendon can strain, and if you are too far forward, then you can compress the talocrural joint, the subtalar joint, and the inferior tibiofibular joint that make up your ankle.

All of these tips should help you find some relief from driver's foot. If you are still having foot or ankle pain, contact a podiatrist in your local area for more help. You may need to be fitted with orthotics or treated for another condition.