I drove my husband's car today and after a few errands, was getting out of the car and suddenly my calf was cramped and thought of this post; I'd seen the post before but didn't have anything to add until that happened. Before the last two errands, I adjusted the seat (raised the seat and tilted the incline so the front was even with or slightly higher than the back) and...no more cramping. When I initially got in to take his car, I just slid the seat forward so as not to make too many adjustments he'd need to fix, but once I made those second adjustments, I was able to slide the seat back a bit further to reduce the angle my foot had to be held in.
It sounds like you're a short stuff like me, and for those of us of smaller stature, particularly driving cars with deeper bucket seats can be uncomfortable after a bit of time since there's not that much leg length to clear the rise of the bucket seat and then down to reach the pedals. Without those adjustments, we press our legs harder into the rise of the bucket and I wonder if it doesn't create some circulation or nerve pinch issues after holding the back of the knee pressed into the seat for an extended period of time. The cramps did not resurface after making the adjustments so its purely anecdotal evidence based on the one experience - I don't want to try recreating to see if it happens again - but thought I'd toss that out there as a suggestion to try raising your seat position.
While the driver's ed car likely won't have the raise and tilt features for the driver's seat, you can ask if you bring a cushion to give you some height and lift your backside out of the "bucket" of the seat so you're not needing to press your leg so hard into the bottom of the seat to reach the pedals. Or if it does have raise/incline options - you mentioned you feel most comfortable with the seat lower - give it another try. As a new driver, thought I'd share that I sit in a very different position now than when first driving, and general ergonomics played a large part in those adjustments as you get used to the feel of driving and the best visibility available.
Edited: Correction - clarification.
Edited by: KASTRA at: 8/3/2014 (17:27)
Starting: 41.1 BMI and extremely sedentary Current: 28.0 BMI with strength-training and low-impact cardio Mini-goal: 29.9 BMI (about 164 lb) - DONE on 8/6/14! I'm no longer obese! Mini-goal: 5K walk or run Mini-goal: 24.9 BMI (about 136 lb) Mini-goal: half-marathon walk or run GOAL: 23 BMI (about 125 pounds), fit and active
Well, sitting too close causes you to have to flex your foot at a steep angle, which is what's causing the cramps. You can still keep your heel on the floor. My piano students tend to sit with the bench far too close to the piano, and lift their heels off the floor because it is too uncomfortable to flex the foot at that angle. It is rectified by simply moving the piano bench back. Same concept applies to driving.
"Sometimes the moments that challenge us the most, define us." - Deena Kastor
Thanks for your suggestions. My instructor says I should keep my heel on the floor at all times. I do lift my foot when moving between brake and accelerator, but heel stays in place when just decreasing pressure.
I can't put my seat back or I won't be able to put the clutch right in. It's not an automatic.
I've been learning to drive for the last year and I find that when I raise my foot off the accelorator to slow down a little, if my foot goes to less than 90 degrees of my leg, I start to take cramp up my shin and calf! I'm more comfortable the lower the seat is, but then I am struggling to see out of the car properly!
I do have a very sedentary lifestyle, but is there any particular exercise anyone can recommend to help me avoid this situation? I have my driving test in a few weeks' time and I don't want this to ruin it for me!
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