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6 Common Causes Of Lower Leg Pain & What You Can Do About It

Lower Leg Pain: The Most Common Causes & How To Prevent It
Lower Leg Pain: The Most Common Causes & How To Prevent It

Lower leg ache is widespread in runners. Right here’s why it occurs and what you are able to do to stop it.

It’s no shock that the most typical space for damage in runners is the decrease leg. The shin or decrease leg consists of every thing between the knee and ankle, and is a major spot for aches and pains. Earlier than we get into the most typical decrease leg accidents for runners, right here’s a fast anatomy refresher:

The tibia is the massive bone of the decrease leg, and the fibula is the skinny bone alongside the outer facet of the decrease leg. There are 4 compartments within the decrease leg, every of which incorporates a number of muscular tissues together with a nerve, artery, and vein. Every compartment is surrounded by a tissue often known as fascia. The muscle tissues in these compartments management the movement of the foot and ankle. Most of the thigh muscle tissue connect to the highest of the tibia and fibula. Differentiating between particular causes of decrease leg ache could also be troublesome as a consequence of overlapping signs.

Now that we all know what we’re coping with, listed here are six of the most typical causes of decrease leg ache and the right way to deal with and stop them.

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Shin Splints

This time period is used to explain ache alongside the medial (internal) aspect of the tibia. Sometimes, you’ll really feel ache alongside a 3rd or extra of the bone. The ache develops whereas operating and resolves afterwards—it may well enhance with continued coaching. The medial aspect of the tibia will probably be tender to the touch with no space extra tender than one other. There could also be delicate swelling within the decrease leg, too.

Microscopic tears of the muscle away from the liner of the bone causes the ache. Predisposing elements embrace overpronation and operating on exhausting surfaces, and shin splints are extra widespread in novice runners. Remedies embrace icing after train, applicable footwear or arch helps, and altering your operating floor.

Enhancing the pliability of your calf muscle tissue and the power of the muscle tissues alongside the entrance and sides of your decrease leg are essential in treating and stopping this drawback as nicely. To strengthen the muscle mass of the decrease leg, we advocate putting a weighted ring in your foot and pointing your foot up, in, and out. Repeat for 10 reps. Carry out three units.

Stress Fractures

Additionally a supply of bone ache, a stress fracture is an damage to bone because of repetitive microtrauma. Bone responds to emphasize by turning into stronger. The stress causes bone resorption, which is adopted by bone constructing, so long as the stress isn’t overwhelming. With extreme stress, resorption is bigger than the constructing part, resulting in microscopic trauma and microfractures. Repetitive microfractures end in a stress fracture.

The standard presentation is bone ache with impression. Initially, the ache develops through the run however might even resolve in the course of the course of the run. Over time, the ache is current all through the run and could also be current whereas strolling. Delicate swelling could also be current within the affected space. Continued influence on a stress fracture may end up in an entire fracture by means of the bone.

On medical examination, there’s a particular space of serious bone tenderness. There’s ache and even lack of ability to hop on the only leg. X-rays won’t reveal abnormalities for at the least two weeks and probably for much longer. MRI and three-phase bone scans can detect stress fractures a lot earlier.

Stress fractures in runners are likely to happen within the decrease facet of the fibula and within the higher and decrease points of the tibia. They will additionally—although much less generally—happen within the entrance of the tibia; this stress fracture may be problematic in therapeutic because of the form of the tibia.

Remedy begins with stopping all high-impact actions, however chances are you’ll proceed low-impact impression cross-training. If there’s ache with strolling, a boot, forged, or crutches could also be wanted. In some instances, an extended air forged (a stirrup brace that covers the decrease leg) might permit a extra speedy return to operating. In any other case, most athletes can return to a gradual operating program in six to eight weeks.

The rationale for creating the stress fracture must be decided. Growing coaching too shortly (depth and/or distance) is the most typical reason for this damage. Low bone density or low ranges of vitamin D can predispose runners to emphasize fractures. Coaching schedules, weight loss plan, and for ladies, menstrual historical past, ought to be reviewed to seek out danger elements for the event of stress fractures and any issues detected ought to be corrected.

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Compartment Syndrome

Throughout train, muscle mass swell, growing in quantity by as much as 20 per cent. If the fascia that surrounds a number of of the compartments is just too tight to permit the swelling to happen, it acts like a tourniquet, proscribing blood circulate and placing strain on the nerve. This causes ache and probably numbness within the decrease leg and foot, and the muscle tissues might not perform usually.

A runner with continual exertional compartment syndrome complains of ache that develops at a sure level in the course of the exercise and turns into progressively worse, typically to the purpose of getting to sluggish or finish the run. Slapping of the foot because it strikes the bottom is one other widespread grievance. The signs will resolve shortly after the train stops because the swelling resolves. Due to this, the runner’s leg often appears regular when examined by a medical skilled.

Compartment syndrome is recognized by measuring the strain in every of the compartments within the concerned legs earlier than and instantly after a run. (The run is often carried out on a treadmill and is sustained till vital signs develop.) The remedy for compartment syndrome is surgical procedure, after which most athletes are capable of return to full actions.


This can be a widespread drawback within the decrease leg. Tendons connect the muscle to bone. Irritation of the tendon causes ache when the muscle is stretched or contracted, and when the tendon swells, each power and adaptability diminish. The posterior tibialis (the internal facet of the ankle) and the peroneal (the outer facet of the ankle) tendons may additionally be infected and tender to the touch.

Common causes of Achilles tendinitis embrace a sudden improve in hill work or velocity work. As well as, switching from coaching footwear to racing footwear with out having worn the racing footwear in a very long time might worsen the Achilles tendon due to the racing flat’s decrease heel. Overpronation might trigger irritation of the posterior tibialis tendon, whereas a stiff, underpronated gait might inflame the peroneal tendon.

Remedy for tendinitis consists of icing the world for 15 to 20 minutes three to 4 occasions a day, adjusting coaching to lower the offending stressors, and modifying footwear. The peroneal and posterior tibialis muscle mass might be strengthened with the workouts described within the part on shin splints (above). Stretching the Achilles tendon when you’ve warmed up with straightforward jogging can also be beneficial.

As flexibility improves, you need to start to strengthen your Achilles. One train includes hanging your heels off the again of a step, and decreasing and elevating them repeatedly. Do this slowly at first, then extra shortly as your power improves. You can then progress to single leg raises, beginning slowly and progressively growing velocity over coaching periods. Heel lifts could be added with footwear when the Achilles tendon is painful to alleviate a few of the stress on the tendon.

Extended issues with the Achilles tendon might trigger degenerative modifications, generally known as tendinosis. The remedy is just like tendinitis. Cussed instances could also be handled with deep tissue therapeutic massage and manipulation (corresponding to lively launch remedy), injections with platelet-rich plasma and comparable substances, or surgical procedure as a final resort. Cortisone injections shouldn’t be carried out within the Achilles tendon because of the danger of rupture and weakening of the construction in the course of the first 10 to 14 days following the injection.


The massive calf muscular tissues (gastrocnemius and soleus) can inflame on account of a sudden damage through which the muscle tears. This mostly happens within the inside stomach of the gastrocnemius on the junction of the muscle and the tendon. When this occurs, you may really feel a pop, and pushing off can be extraordinarily painful.

There will probably be delicate swelling and probably some bruising within the leg. Remedy consists of utilizing a boot, crutches, or each, and ice ought to be used typically. Because the ache subsides, power and adaptability workouts must be carried out. When the runner is ready to bear weight on the affected leg with out ache, heel lifts must be added to the footwear. Lesser accidents, through which the muscle is infected, however not torn, could also be handled like tendinitis.

Compression of the Popliteal Artery

Compression of this artery throughout train is an unusual however probably extreme supply of ache, which often happens on the degree of the knee. With compression of the artery, blood movement to the leg muscle tissue diminishes, inflicting vital ache till the train stops. The blood circulate must be evaluated throughout exertion to diagnose this drawback, and surgical procedure is the remedy.

Remedy of Lower Leg Pain

With all of those accidents, drugs must be used with warning. Brief-term use (5 to seven days) of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (resembling ibuprofen and naproxen) might assist relieve ache, so long as there isn’t a contraindication to utilization, akin to gastrointestinal, liver, or kidney issues. Even then, these drugs ought to be used with warning.

There’s equivocal knowledge in scientific literature on using NSAIDs with stress fractures—a number of research have instructed that these drugs might impede the therapeutic of fractures. Acetaminophen could also be used for ache management if there are not any medical contraindications to its utilization. When unsure, all the time search care from a medical skilled.

Within the case of stress fractures, operating must be discontinued till your well being care supplier provides the inexperienced mild. Compartment syndrome won’t resolve with out remedy. When the signs are extreme sufficient, choices embrace surgical procedure or eliminating operating.

A torn gastrocnemius often precludes operating on account of ache. For the opposite accidents, a point of operating can often be continued. This includes reducing the space and depth of exercises, with the quantity of modification decided by the severity of the signs. The aim is to attenuate signs whereas operating—cross-training could also be carried out along with operating if it doesn’t worsen the issue. Coaching must be elevated regularly, and ice must be used following the exercise. Don’t overlook to carry out power and adaptability workouts as coaching will increase.

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Prevention of Lower Leg Pain

Put on your racing footwear for at the least half of your velocity exercises and tempo runs. Earlier than a marathon, do at the very least two lengthy runs within the footwear you’ll put on on race day. In any other case, you’re more likely to get decrease leg soreness instantly after and even throughout your race.

“When you consider that racing flats often have less than one inch of cushioning in the heels, it’s easy to see why suddenly subjecting your legs to such a large difference can strain the calf muscles,” says sports activities podiatrist Brian Fullem.

In the event you haven’t been sporting racing flats regularly, introduce them slowly by sporting them on a collection of post-run striders a few occasions every week. “Then gradually build up to a full workout, starting with shorter workouts,” Fullem says. “For example, if your track workout ends with 200- or 400-meter repeats, put on the flats for this portion of the workout.”

This Article Initially Appeared On Runner’s World US

By Cathy Fieseler