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So lately I have been commuting to work in my manual transmission car for 1.5 hours each way (yes I know but it's only for a year long placement) and I notice that it is a lot more effort for my left leg as compared to my right leg because of the need to always be pushing the clutch down all the way, especially in stop/start traffic jams.

My left leg is my non dominant leg (which I recall is usually the stronger one as it is the plant leg) so I want to know if muscle imbalance could become an issue for me in my legs and what I can do (preferably while driving) to keep the muscles balanced.

  • You give very little information about what you do besides driving. If you work out at all, and do a bare minimum of stretching, your muscles will balance themselves out easily. – Alec Mar 31 '15 at 7:50
  • I do very little, drive to work where I sit at a desk all day, drive back home and go to sleep after an hour or so of tv or computer. This is part of the reason why I think that this will be an issue, because it is the most exercise I get and i feel it strains my muscles a considerable amount. – Aequitas Mar 31 '15 at 19:19
  • My calf muscle in my left leg is definitely - significantly bigger driving a manual vehicle and spending 1hours 30 in the car in the morning and same in the evening commuting to work. – Sonja Kruger Mar 15 '19 at 11:21
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Consider what sort of exercise you're doing by using the car. Unless you have a considerably different car than usual, it's a combination of pushing at relatively low intensity and maintaining your leg at a fully extended or mostly extended position (I personally found that, more often than not, holding the leg hovering in readiness was as much a part of the strain than not, but that's highly dependent on whether you rest the feet you're not using on the floor or on the side). So, what exercises fit that? I would personally go for one-legged leg presses if you have weight machines, one-leg squats if you're doing bodyweight. Do them on both sides to exhaustion. There probably will be some small difference between the legs, but not much. If you want to train for having your legs held in wait to shift, standing on one leg with one leg pulled up using your leg muscles will be your exercise. Train both sides there too.

Frankly, I don't think you're going to see any real muscular imbalance from this. There isn't really enough exercise to count, even with an hour and a half of commuting, but these are things you can do to at least make yourself feel better about it.

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If you are at a stop light or a traffic jam, put the car in neutral and then release the clutch. The car won't stall, your leg won't get so tired, and it saves wear and tear on the clutch (don't forget to either set the parking brake or keep your foot on the brake, though, to keep from rolling).

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Yes, definitely. Being a Swede where 90% of all cars are manual transmission, I see people limping about on their hideously differently sized legs all the time. I would recommend you solve it the Swedish way and get some large-right-leg inhibitors here

Seriously though, no, it won't have an impact on your muscle balance, or there would be enormous problems all over the world where manually transmitted cars are standard.

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I agree with Sean Duggan in that I don't think you should worry about it too much. When you are not driving, both of your legs are working pretty hard and evenly carrying your body around every day with your day-to-day activities.

If you are concerned and self-conscious though (and we don't want you to be!), you could certainly consider going to the gym! I would always encourage that! :) Some good and simple lower body exercises to get you started are body squats (or weighted barbell/dumbbell squats), calf-raises (weighted or body), and dumbbell lunges.

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STRETCH! I was fine for years (20+) as long as I did yoga stretches almost daily [10min.am/2min.×5-throughout day/10min.evening] but... after a car accident & less stretching my left hip & right back tightened up [didn't notice till pain set in years later & after pulling a muscle shovelling (right lower back- several massages later- I realized it was the clutch from picking up left leg). My advice, don't wait till your in pain. Stretch - a lunge when you get out of the car & a few arm shoulder ones. In office chair do the yoga twist [keep spine strait] & when you get home do the floor propper version [or on the back twist]. The Pilates plank for core is good too! Take care of your body! & never sit for more than an hour [should get up & move every 30min.- even makes you more productive!] Also get a massage, you may have tight muscles you don't know about, then you'll know what you need to stretch.

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