Goodbye Foot Cramps! How Truck Drivers Can Put The Brakes On Pain
Posted by Jenn F. on Thursday, January 10th, 2013
It’s always amazing to me how little we think about the massive infrastructure that keeps our country moving. Unless you’re a farmer, factory worker, or bridge builder, you probably eat, use a computer, and waltz over bridges without a second thought. Many of us work in health care, digital media, the law, sales consulting… jobs that are totally removed from the infrastructure. But all those goods we consume every day have to come from somewhere. And do you know how they get from that somewhere to your local grocery store or Walmart? That’s right, truck drivers. There are over 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States. They’re hurtling down our nation’s highways at 60 miles an hour every hour of every day, 365 days a year. If driving a big rig sounds like a cakewalk, think again. Sitting in one place with your foot cocked over the clutch for hours on end can lead to some serious pain.
In the United Kingdom there’s a label for driving related disorders: Repetitive Driving Injuries. It turns out, everyone who gets behind a wheel is at risk for a range of problems, from sciatica to headaches. The most common culprit: foot cramps. A full 81% of drivers suffer from them. I couldn’t find any specific numbers on this, but I can only assume truck drivers with their 60-hour work weeks probably have foot cramps even more often than the rest of the driving population.
So what’s the big deal? Well, foot cramps, by themselves, aren’t necessarily dangerous. I mean they hurt like crazy, come out of nowhere, and inspire the burliest among us to curl up in a fetal position and cry for their mommies. And, if you happen to be behind the wheel when a cramp strikes, the cramp is probably the least of your worries. In a job where any distraction can be a safety hazard, intense and sudden foot pain is of major concern.
How do you prevent cramps before they strike, and deal with them when they do?
- Pull over! You can’t do anything while you’re driving. Stop as quickly as you can, as safely as possible.
- Take off your shoe and massage and flex your foot. Increasing circulation will help the muscle relax, and the cramp dissipate.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Yep, you guessed it, wear comfortable shoes that fit.
- Persistent foot cramps can signify a vitamin deficiency, typically in electrolytes like potassium and magnesium. Take a multivitamin and eat plenty of bananas.
- Stretch your feet and calves at regular intervals along your route. The more you move your legs, the better your circulation. Sitting for long hours in one position isn’t good, period. Your feet aren’t the only part of you that will suffer. You may develop back pain, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, and leg cramps too.
If your cramps don’t respond to the treatments above, you may have a more insidious problem. For example, poor circulation from diabetes or heart disease can cause foot cramps. If you’re concerned, visit The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.