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I've been running for almost a year. I have completed two half marathons in this time. I was told in HS that I wouldn't be able to do sports or anything really physical due to incorrectly developed hamstrings and tendons. I knew my legs would be a problem going in and I have to take things slower than some people. I can't run as fast and I have to stretch a lot to keep from getting too tight. I have to take more time between races to recover than some people. That being said, I've had a fairly easy time getting into this sport. I've suffered the occasional shin splint and a little overuse but rest usually helps.
Recently, I started training for a full marathon (already entered). I had a half marathon in October and I took a couple weeks off. I started back again easy and I've hardly been able to run more than a mile without stopping and stretching. My calves get so tight that I feel like I have to scream from the pain. When I stop, the pain intensifies but goes away after about 5 minutes. When I start again, my legs feel better but they soon get the tight feeling again. I took 4 days off and tried running again today. I did one lap and it felt pretty bad. I stopped and stretched a little and tried it again but it kept getting worse and worse. I recently bought some compression socks to try, I took those off thinking they might be what's making it so bad. I barely managed to run 1.5 miles and I stopped twice. Has anyone experienced this and have any ideas for a solution? I've read a little online and based on what I'm feeling, it seems to be compartment syndrome but I don't want to go to the dr with a self diagnosis and it be something else that's a really easy fix. Any help will be greatly appreciated since I've started this training and paid for the race. Thanks so much!
Compartment Syndrome is no joke if you think you have it see a doctor! Do you have a foam roller, if not that may help with your calves! Look up foam rolling on the web, it helps a lot of people with calve issues!
Sounds like you need to make an appointment. You may have compartment syndrome but it could also be a stress fracture. Is it both legs? The compression socks may not be a good idea under the circumstances. Also if you are taking anything for the pain - ibuprofen, etc - I suggest you stop that as well, since under some conditions it can cause bleeding into the muscle. Not to say that these are the cause, but it's worth stopping them to make sure they aren't contributing.
When you see the doctor, just relate the symptoms. Let the doc make a diagnosis. Stress fracture may require an MRI, the x-rays can work if the fracture is old enough. Compartment syndrome can only be diagnosed by a test of pressure in the compartment while you are exercising (running).
Good luck. If you need surgery (the "treatment of choice"), try to get a surgeon with experience.
I agree with the previous posts that its time to see a doctor. When I was about a year into my running, I experienced excrutiating pain on the inside of my lower leg. I went to a well respected sports med doctor who ruled out everything but compartment syndrome, but at that time said the only way to know if that's what it was he'd have to do some exploratory surgery. I qucikly got a few other opinions and was diagnosed with shin splints (they don't just occur on the front of your shins) and was prescribed orthotics and compression sleeves that helped. See a doctor and don't be afraid to get a second opinion, I'm glad I did and was able to heal myself without any surgery. Good luck and hope your back to running soon.
I talked to a coach at the school where I teach and he called our local retired sports doctor and he came over and discussed everything with me. He confirmed that I may have compartment syndrome and suggested a place to go for further investigation/treatment I really appreciate all the help from fellow runners. Thanks so much!
It doesn't sound like Compartment Syndrome to me. I agree with Julie Ann that a second opinion is the place to start. Your transition from no sports to marathoning is quite a jump for tenderfoot muscles, and they should be quitting on you, after trying to go from couch to marathon in less than a year. I tried that too in my early days, and yes, it can really beat up the calves.
You mention stretching as the only self-applied therapy in response to this pain, and that probably made matters worse. A muscle that's been driven too hard too fast is not likely to accept a stretch alone as a solution to overuse, since it is a reapplication of the same stress to the muscle that caused the problem in the first place. Muscles develop specific syndromes in response to overuse, and there are very specific solutions. The first would be to control the ambition to try what seasoned athletes would approach more carefully. The second would be to have these muscles rehabbed the way good trainers know how. Stretching and exercises come later after the muscle heals enough to allow itself to move.
Compartment Syndrome occurs when muscles outgrow their fascia compartments, and pressure builds to a dangerous level. Tissue necrosis can result, and while it is still possible that's what you have, your description sounds more like what I would expect from an aggressive training program after too little experience. I went through it too, and it hurt. A lot. Here's hoping you slowed down in time, and after a painful learning experience, you'll live to fight another day.
I saw a sports medicine doctor on Tuesday and he confirmed that he thought I may have compartment syndrome. He did an X-ray and MRI to rule out other things like stress fracture but it looks like the next step is the test for compartment syndrome. Thanks for all the input. I had a long three week wait to hear it from a practicing physician that can get me on the track of getting this corrected.