Leg Pain While Running – 5 Causes

Leg pain while running

We’ve written a number of leg pain related blog posts over the past couple of months. In them, we covered the most common causes of leg pain, what’s causing your leg pain, and why you may be experiencing leg pain at night. Today, we are going to close out this segment by discussing the five most common causes of leg pain while running.

Five Causes of Leg Pain While Running

Pulled Muscle

If you have been running for a while, chances are you’ve experienced a pulled muscle or two. This occurs when a muscle gets stretched too far. People who play sports are fairly familiar with this condition. Muscle pulls are intense and begin to hurt almost immediately. Furthermore, the area may swell and become tender to the touch.

The best treatment for a pulled muscle is to ice it with cold packs. You can start by using ice for 20 minutes at a time over several times a day. Some people also experience relief by using a heating pad, wrapping the area lightly, keeping it raised, or by simply resting it. Over-the-counter pain relievers can ease the ache.


Sprains typically occur when a ligament – the tissue that connects a muscle to a bone – is stretched or torn. Ankle sprains are most common, but it can occur elsewhere too. The injured area will swell and hurt – to the point that you can’t put weight on it.

The best way to treat a sprained ligament is by following the R.I.C.E. method – rest, ice, compression, and elevation. You can ice it 20 minutes on and 20 off throughout the day, followed by wrapping it in a bandage and propping it up. If you pain continues, see your doctor so they can take X-ray and check for broken bones.

Shin Splints

Shin splints are quite painful and occur when the muscles and tissues around your shinbone get enflamed. These make the inner edge of the bone hurt. While they afflict any athlete, they are most often found in people who run a lot. If you have flat feet, use the wrong shoes, or have rigid arches you may experience shin splints.

The best treatment here is to rest your legs, use cold packs several times a day (following the 20/20 method), and take pain relievers if you need them. You may also want to consult with your doctor to make sure you are not suffering from something more serious.

Stress Fracture

If you experience the pain associated with shin splints, but you notice it’s not getting any better with rest, you may have a small crack in your shinbone. This happens from time to time and it is the result of a muscle around the bone being overused. Your leg has less cushion for the impact of movement throughout the day.

Again, one of the best methods you can follow is R.I.C.E. (notice a trend yet?). However, this time around it can take between 6 to 8 weeks to heal. Since it is a fairly long healing process, you want to make sure it’s healed completely before you start exercising again. The worst thing you can do is make a bone injury worse.


The last common cause of leg pain while running that we are going to cover is tendinitis. Tendons are flexible cords that connect bones and muscles. If they become inflamed, especially when you walk or run, you will experience a lot of pain. This is called tendinitis and it’s one of the more common wear-and-tear injuries that runners experience. It can affect your hip, knee, or ankle (sometimes more than one area at a time).

As with the other conditions we’ve listed, the best way to treat it is the R.I.C.E. method. Seeking further medical evaluation is also wise so they can rule out any other issue. Some anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen or naproxen may also be of use.

Further Reading:

Our staff at Metropolitan Pain Consultants looks forward to hearing from you. You can contact us at (201) 729-0001. We offer weekday and weekend appointments. Our conveniently located clinics can be found in West OrangeAberdeenClifton, and Lyndhurst.

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