If Your Legs Hurt, You’re Doing It Wrong

September 26, 2012 at 10:40 am 10 comments

Or maybe you’re running on uneven surface? Or maybe you need to stretch more? Or maybe all of the above?

During the three runs I’ve done in the last week, the lower right side of my right leg has been hurting. And I don’t mean sore or the pain of working hard, I mean sharp shooting pains down the side of my leg. They’re intermittent, but still…not cool. After doing some research, I think the muscle group that is hurting is my peroneal muscles, which I learned are comprised of three main portions; the peroneus longus, brevis, and tertius.

What are the peroneus muscles? I found this information here:

The peroneal longus and brevis muscles bend the foot downward (plantarflexion) and twist it outward (eversion). The peroneal tertius has a weak pull and lifts the foot upwards (dorsiflexion) and twists it outwards (eversion). 
The peroneal muscles help to keep the legs steady upon the feet. The action of peroneal longus is especially significant when one is standing on a single leg. The lateral pull of this muscle prevents from falling towards the side of the raised leg. 

Anything sound familiar with this? One of the basic drills, and biggest A-HA moments for me learning Chi Running was reading about One-Legged Running, and that Chi Running is about simply lifting your legs to keep up with your forward lean.

So, as I’ve been running more and, admittedly, not stretching nearly enough, especially my calves, it makes sense that this area of my leg would start to feel hot and bothered. After learning a little bit about this muscle group, I think that my pain is a combination of running on the right shoulder of the road, causing may foot to over-rotate, and not stretching. It could very well be my form, but during every recent run I’ve had this pain, so I’ve been focusing on my lower leg form–just lifting my legs; striking with a flat, midfoot strike; stride length–the form areas I’ve been working on since the beginning, but it doesn’t seem to work.  One form focus that I still struggle with is relaxing, and truly finding a passive lower leg, and I suspect that may be key.

So, for the next few runs I will be extra mindful of which side of the road I’m running on and focusing on relaxing my lower leg. Most importantly, I am going to start massaging, stretching and focusing on loosening and strengthening this area. I tend to neglect my calves as it is, and I don’t want to cause injury because of it. If I don’t do something about this, the pain will travel down to my ankle and feet and cause all sorts of other problems.

Here are some stretches I found.

Seated Ankle Stretch

  • Sit in a chair with one ankle resting on the other knee.
  • With your hands, point the foot (plantarflex) and turn the sole of the foot upwards (invert).
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds.

Extended Leg Stretch

  • Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you and wrap the middle of a towel around the ball of your foot.
  • Pull back on the towel gently with a straight knee and hold for 30 seconds.
  • Perform the stretch three times on each leg.

Foam Roller I don’t have a foam roller, but I use a rolling pin and manually roll out muscles. As such, I won’t be laying on my rolling pin… :)

  • Get on all fours with either far end or entire roller on one shin.
  • Shift body to apply pressure to anterior tibialis (muscle on the front of shin) roll from knee to ankle.
  • Rolling to the outside to get an emphasis on the peroneus longus and brevis.

Standing Ankle Rolls and Stretches

  • Here is a good video: http://youtu.be/_ZnNl48Qypo

So stretching should help, and down the road I should look into some strengthening exercises.

Do you have any tips for stretching or strengthening the peroneals?


Entry filed under: Body Sensing, Chi Running, Lower Leg, Practice. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

Peace, Love and Better Race Recap: Color Me Rad

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Day 16: The Things You See « Ch'I Journey  |  October 18, 2012 at 9:33 am

    […] Tuesday was Day 16 and a day of running for 35 minutes while working on my posture and forward lean. It was an okay run. My legs felt heavy and I was moving slow, but my upper body and core form felt good and I was running with a smile. I was also thinking a lot about relaxing my lower legs and found that helped with my peroneal pain. […]

  • 2. Jane Fritz  |  September 27, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I’m trying to imagine using a rolling pin instead of a foam roller. Foam rollers are really cheap, Steph. I say, “go for it”!! :)

    • 3. Steph  |  September 27, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      Yes…using a rolling pin is no way reflective of any belief that they are superior. It’s pure laziness. Maybe this weekend I will go for it!

  • 4. Kat  |  September 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Form is a huge part of running, good read! SPA love

    • 5. Steph  |  September 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      Thanks Kat–it really is all about form huh?! SPA love!

  • 6. jenna  |  September 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    great info and tips here!! awesome post! i know it’ll really be beneficial for many! spa love!!

    • 7. Steph  |  September 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      Thanks Jenna! SPA love!

  • 8. John  |  September 26, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I walk around on my tip-toes then my heels as part of my warm-up and cool down routine.

    • 9. Steph  |  September 26, 2012 at 11:23 am

      Great tip John! I’ll add those to my joint loosener routine!

      • 10. John  |  September 26, 2012 at 11:34 am

        oh, and I forgot, walking backwards does the trick too.


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