I don’t usually drive more than five to ten minutes per day, but sitting in traffic today kept me behind the wheel longer than normal (over an hour). I was sitting there bored out of my mind until I noticed that driving was making the big toe joint on my right foot ache. Yay! Something to do!
I was shocked, and I mean SHOCKED when I noticed that I was tightly gripping my toes when pushing down the accelerator. Why am I doing that? Scrunching my toes doesn’t make the traffic any better. I even popped my shoe off to check if the shoe type was influencing the toe clenching. It wasn’t. Why was I shocked? Because this means that my driving time (up until now!) has been strengthening my right foot and toe muscles in a way that buckles the toe bones (hammer toes anyone?) and pulls my big toe toward my pinkie toe (bunions!) What happened to my lovely toe abduction (spreading)?
Car Exercise: Can you press the accelerator without gripping your toes? Now how about toe spreading?
And here’s a second observation for all you out there with sciatic pain and low back and SI joint issues. Driving usually causes one leg to be actively reaching forward from the foot all the way up to the hip. This reaching motion places the pelvis under constant torsional forces (rotation) that tax and fatigue the lumbar spine. But guess what? The car manufacturers know that your hips should be ergonomically balanced at the wheel, so they put a “balancing pedal” on the left side of the floor board. Check out my lousy, lazy driving posture before…
and after! Better! Now my hips are square to the front of the car.
Keeping your hips even requires a lot of work. You’ll quickly drop right back into your old habits if you stop paying attention. And let me tell you, it was rather challenging to align my hips, take a picture of the aforementioned foot position, and talk on the phone. What!?
Because there are many points to align while driving, I’ll address a few of them over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!