Lower Leg Pain

by Paul A.
(Mississauga, Ontario, Canada)

I am a 45 year old male with lower leg pain.
I finally got off the potato couch last September 2010 I had been on that couch since high school.
My first attempts at speed walking on treadmills caused severe pain (burning and cramping) in my lower legs front out side, the entire muscle.

I am guessing now that that was the muscle sheaf being ripped as muscle that had not been used for a long time if ever.

I started using an elliptical and was able to work out for 2 hours at about 6 miles an hour 1600 calories if you can trust the meters. I was also working out with the different weight equipment and went on a low carb low salt diet.

I lost 60 plus pounds over the winter and when spring came it was time to expand my exercise to include jogging just to give me options in exercise. I started slow, there is a nice circular road close to my home that is 5K in distance and I started jogging it 2 to 3 times a week doing 4 lamp post jog one walk and building up to full jog.

Then my wife wanted to start jogging so there is a 2.5K route I would do with her (walk Run) and then my 5K and finally I would do the 2.5K route then my 5K and then the 2.5K again. This is mostly side walk running and I have good runners and orthotics.

Lately I have developed a pain in my left leg it starts 2/3 of the way up my leg in the middle where the muscle meets the shin bone. You can feel a lump there. The pain gets worse with running and after a few days it is OK but still has enough of a presence that I still know it is there. I do not know what it is, shin splints, varicose veins or if I am doing more damage by running with it there.

Any advise would be appreciated I really do not want to loose any of the gains I have made over the winter. I am running 5K once a week now and getting on the elliptical for an hour 1 to 3 times a week.

Answer by Dominique:

Hi there,
Thanks for your question about your lower leg pain. First of all, congratulations on your progress so far. You have lost a lot of weight and are living proof of the fact that you can change your lifestyle and you can lose weight by combination of a run/walk program and a more sensible diet.

It's hard to give a definite answer on what your lower leg pain is, but it sounds like shin splints. As for the cause, it seems like you have built up your running sensibly. But have you considered your running shoes may be getting worn and not providing the support anymore you used to get from them?

Apart from overexerting yourself, shoes are the other major factor that cause shin splints. I would advise going to a specialized running shoe store and getting a "diagnosis" there.

As for treatment of shin splints: see the previous shin splint link provided. In a two word summary: Ice. Rest.

Resting should not necessarily mean absolutely no exercise at all, but changing to exercise that does not put as much pressure on the lower legs. The elliptical sounds like a good alternative. Biking, swimming and walking are others.

I would stop the running for a few weeks, see if you need those new running shoes and then gently start it again, preferably by doing your run/walks first and then progressing into full runs again. Whatever you do, try not to ignore the pain as shin splints can develop into a more chronic condition if you do that. And if that happens you will have to deal with a much, much longer period of rest.

Best of luck.
Kind regards,

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