Use Proper Foot Placement

Those of us who drive regularly often develop a unique posture when driving; whatever feels most comfortable. You may let your driving knee fall to the side or prop up your left leg on the seat in a casually lop-sided driving posture. When driving with a knee injury, avoid these postures of driving personality. Instead, do your best to sit like a mannequin of proper driving posture in the seat.

Align your hips forward, place your left leg in the designated off-space, and position your right leg so that the foot rests comfortably in the center of the gas pedal. Do not let your leg or foot slouch to the side when foot-driving. This will help your knee stay in a comfortable and recovery-positive position as well.

Use Cruise Control Often

The biggest challenge to driving with a knee injury is pedal control. This makes cruise control your new best friend when it comes to driving comfortably, especially for long distances, while your knee recovers. Cruise control can allow you to adjust your leg and knee position, stretch out a little, move the knee, and take a break from precise pedal control.

Whether you’re commuting, road-tripping, or driving across town to your favorite restaurant, cruise control can be used to help extend your comfortable driving time with the injured knee. Just remember to stay alert and keep that foot ready to hit the brake or gas on a dime if necessary. If you remain alert, you can even use cruise control on boulevards that go a steady pace with few stoplights en-route.

Wear a Knee Brace to Drive

One of the best things you can do for driving with a knee injury is to wear a knee brace. A knee brace will provide you the structure and support necessary to keep your knee in a recovery position while you drive. The brace holds your knee in proper alignment while you drive, which can significantly increase your driving stamina and reduce your post-driving pain with an injured knee. This is because the brace prevents the common unconscious knee-slouch of many commuter drivers.

Consult with your doctor on the best type of knee brace for your injury and to allow you to drive comfortably and safely. There’s a good chance you will want a structured brace with a padded interior to provide support, alignment assistance, and comfort.

Take Frequent Breaks on Long Drives

Driving for long periods of time can put a lot of stress on a healthy knee, much less an injured one. Many people find that their knees stiffen up painfully after spending too much time bent and immobile. And hours of fine motor control through your injured knee can become agony as time passes. If you start to feel pain in one or both knees, it’s time to stop and walk around.

For injured drivers on a long route or road-trip, make sure to stop every hour or two to stretch out your knee(s) and give yourself a quick break. Even if your schedule is short, it’s important to let your knee un-tense and relax during a long drive so that you are able to drive yourself safely home later on.

Massage and Exercise the Knee

When the knee starts to hurt from driving, even with short drives, you may find some relief with massage and light recovery exercises. Massage can help to relax the tight muscles or tendons that may be overly taut when compensating for the injury. Light recovery exercises help to stretch out muscles and tendons to release tension and disperse built-up lactic acid in the joint. Ask your doctor or physical therapist about the right massage and exercise techniques to use for your specific knee injury.

Partner with a Backup Driver and Ride Shotgun

Finally, be ready to pass the driving off to someone else. Even if you’re game for a commute or a quick trip for fast food, your knee may not be up for all-day driving. Have one or more people in the car with you for long trips or on-call for your daily driving needs. Be prepared to switch to the passenger’s seat where you can stretch out and relieve your knee pain more easily. The more pleasant you are about asking someone else to drive and giving up the driver’s seat, the more willing others will be to help you. That’s why a good attitude is essential for enjoyable injury recovery, for everyone involved.

Here at Cawley Physical Therapy, we know that recovering from a knee injury can be a pain. In more ways than one. With the right care routine and recovery exercises, you can get that knee back into shape for the expert driving control you need. Contact us today to find out more about how to recover fully and drive without pain after a knee injury.