A Driving Instructor's Blog

Someone found the blog on the search term “foot strain on gas pedal, learner”.

Obviously, it’s hard to know exactly what problem this person is experiencing, but there are a few things I find with my own pupils.

First of all, if you are new to driving it does take a while to get used to operating the pedals, and if you combine that with being tense and nervous then it is quite common for your leg (either or both) to start aching or even to get a severe bout of cramp! But it gets better the more you practice.

Car SeatAnother likely issue is your seating position. If you sit too close to the pedals you’ll have to lift your foot from the ankle to a point where you put a strain on your shins. That can really make your foot and lower leg tired. To fix it, when you go through your cockpit drill first make sure your back is at a comfortable angle – then move the seat backwards or forwards until you can just push the clutch all the way to the floor without having to stretch. The ideal position will be around one or two clicks forward from there. What you want is to be able to comfortably push the clutch all the way in and still have a slight bend at the knee – but only a slight one. This way, when you operate the pedals your ankle will be doing it within its comfortable range without having to stretch to its limits.

Remember that if you adjust the seat first, then fiddle with the back rest (or height adjusters), your forward/backward position will change, so readjust as necessary. Also remember that you can usually move the steering wheel in or out – you want a slight bend in your arms, as well, and if your elbows are pointing down to your thighs then you are too close to it.

Another range of linked possibilities is injury, general weakness, or illness. I have a pupil at the moment who had a torn Achilles tendon who suffers pain and fatigue when she uses the pedals – especially towards the end of the lesson. Some time ago, I had an older (not “old”) lady whose legs were just weak and – combined with her being nervous at the start – I could feel the car shaking when we were doing certain manoeuvres. If you are unwell (or pregnant) it can also be tiring to use the pedals. If it becomes a real problem then  you ought to see your GP.

Usually, though, it is just sitting too close to the pedals that causes strain and fatigue – and especially so with the gas pedal (which is not as stiff as the clutch, but which requires your foot to be in a raised/taut position for much more of the time, particularly when you’re doing a lot of stopping and starting).

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