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How to Treat Leg Pain Caused by Running

Those who pride themselves in committing to a rigorous athletic routine are very familiar with the sudden onset of post-workout pains. Particularly those who engage in frequent runs tend to experience cramps, stiffness, and other aches in their legs most often. Many times, these light pains could be sported as a badge of honor from a job well done, but there are several occasions where relief is desired or necessary. Here are a few tips on treating discomfort after a good run.

How to Treat Leg Pain Caused by Running

Don’t overdo it

Not listening to your body is the prime reason for experiencing pain after you exercise. Pushing yourself too hard and drastically intensifying your routine without gradual preparation will often prove to be more harmful than helpful. The body sends out warnings throughout the course of the activity, and if you ignore these signs, you may pay the price later. Novices and athletes recovering from a previous injury are the most likely to experience the most pain. Common injuries from running include runner’s knee, stress fracture, shin split, muscle pulls, ankle sprains, and Achilles tendonitis. Taking care of your body while staying fit will prevent your chances of falling victim to one of these issues.

Catch it before it happens

Leg pains can arise as a result of many different factors. Dehydration is a very common culprit. Ensuring to consume plenty fluids before, during, and after your exercise will keep your muscles hydrated and your pain levels at a minimum. Replacing lost electrolytes is another simple yet effective method for alleviating pains.

Stretch it out

Many athletes do not take care to ensure their muscles are properly stretched before and after their routine. Often times, runners will utilize nearby curbs and park benches to aid in loosening their limbs. Contrary to popular belief, this form of stretching does not adequately provide your muscles with the necessary prepping. Bending from the hips does nothing for your lower body. The front lunge, standing upright with one leg in front and your knee bent toward the back is more effective and a lot easier to do.

Kpa1563 / Wikimedia Commons

Want to know how to treat leg pain? Try stretching! (Kpa1563 / Wikimedia Commons)

Another common costly mistake is neglecting to stretch your soleus. Directly inserted into the Achilles Tendon, the soleus and the gastoc can cause the tendon to tear if it is excessively worn. Standing flat foot, move forward enough to bend the ankle then bend the body back to simultaneously bend the knee. Hold that stretch for 15 second intervals until your body is as loose as it will anatomically get, then hold for 60 seconds. A healthy stretching routine will prolong your active career and you’ll thank yourself in the morning!

There are occasions when stretching should not be your first choice. If the muscles are cramped until the point of immobility, for example, the severe pain of a Charlie Horse, the muscles are violently attempting to contract. The body operates on an “all or nothing” principle when experiencing distress. Muscles will either fully contract or they won’t contract at all. Attempting to stretch an unwilling muscle can potentially result in torn fibers. Aiding in its contraction before proceeding to stretch it out will offer relief without added injury.

Although the leg pains can certainly be undesirable, a well-informed and proactive runner will spend more time galloping through nature than hobbling around the house. You will see an improvement in your stamina and performance, and your legs will continue to happily serve you for many years to come.


Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum is a Podiatric Physician and Surgeon serving patients in Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach.

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16244 S. Military Trail #290
Delray Beach, FL 33445


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