IS IT NORMAL TO HAVE INTENSE LEG PAIN WHILE RUNNING??
I've been a runner my whole life; growing up, one of my favorite things to do was to go on runs with my dog around the neighborhood. In high school, I was on the cross country team and it's where I met most of my friends I still talk to today. In college, I joined a running club and was hooked on the group’s running atmosphere and support. I know everyone talks about the runner’s “high” and as cliche as it sounds it really is the best feeling in the world, and always pushed me to run harder each day.
Now that I'm in my 30s I’ve had to slow down on my distance running. I did two marathons in my twenties and have been itching to do another one but I'm not sure I can. I decided to train for a half marathon instead since it's been over five years since I did a full marathon. I’m worried I may not be able to finish that either though. It’s been impossible for me to find that runner’s high I used to have. Every time I try to run farther than a few miles I start to get horrible shin splints and end up complaining to my wife all night about my cramped calves.
It's been really difficult for me to come to terms with my body’s reaction to running long distances. I simply can’t wrap my head around how something that gives me so much joy can now cause me so much pain. Running has always been my favorite way to exercise and helps me relieve work stress. I refuse to give up running so I’ve been searching for remedies to my issues.
I’ve seen my doctor about my aches and pains but they don’t seem to take me seriously and have just recommended pain medication or sports massages. I really don’t want to take daily prescription meds for something that is not debilitating and only happens while I’m running, it seems a bit extreme.
I tried out the sports massages and wow those did help A TON. I would go in with my legs feeling so stiff and achy, and as painful as the hour was, I would leave feeling ten years younger. I was going once a week for this and as much as I loved it, the results wouldn’t last and every week I would go back in with the same stiff and achy legs I started with. Not to mention the cost was outrageous. It really wasn’t something I could keep up with.
I had been running with a local club while I attempted to train for this half marathon and it’s become such a struggle to keep up with everyone.
After running a few times with the club, I noticed there was always a girl leading our pack with fun colored high socks on. She always had a different pair on with unique designs. Before one of our runs, I asked her how she managed to always keep her stamina up and run in the front every time. She actually pointed to her fun socks which I was puzzled by. She explained they were PRO Compression socks and they're the only way she runs the way she does. They’ve got graduated compression that puts extra pressure around your ankle and less and less compression going up your leg helping push the blood flow through your legs so no more muscle cramps and stiff legs
I immediately went home, grabbed an ice pack for my legs, and started researching compression. This is what I learned: so when you run, your blood can start to pool at the lower end of your legs and cause swelling, aches, and overall pain. The compression essentially makes your blood keep moving and circulating through your body. I’ll spare you the rabbit hole I went down about all the dangers of your blood not circulating properly, but it is scary stuff. I couldn’t believe I didn’t know any of this before and how easily compression can fix all these problems!
I checked out PRO Compression’s website to see what they were all about and read more about their graduated compression system. The way the socks work is that the farther the compression is from the heart, the more pressure that is applied to that part of the body. I know it sounds weird but in essence, it creates more pressure at the base of your leg than there is at the top of it. So, as the blood travels farther down into the lower parts of your leg, the socks are helping the blood work against gravity and pushing it back up through the body. Yay science!
All the research into these compression socks really sold me and they had so many great reviews from people that were having the same pain I have! I had so much fun going through all the patterns and colors, it was hard to choose just one. I ended up going with the San Diego themed one since that's where I’m from.
My Experience After One Week
Ok, so I got my socks in the mail a few days ago and have been running with them during my running club. I really struggled with how to get them on, the first time, but once I got that figured out, (thank you youtube) they fit really comfortably. I wish I could properly explain to you the night and day difference I feel. I didn't want to push myself too hard the first few times so I kept the pace I usually do. I fully expected to feel the pains and aches by the time I finished but they never came. By the end of the week, I was pushing myself harder than I have in months, maybe years, and guess who was leading the pack.
I never thought I would feel this good while running again. I was starting to accept that pain and running would be synonymous for me and might have to even give up on my half marathon. I’ve already gone back to PRO Compression and bought five more pairs of their socks. I even got a pair for my wife since she's a nurse and on her feet all day. She doesn’t experience leg pain like me and I’m hoping with these, she never will.
I’m more excited than ever to run that half marathon and already planning another one for next year. If you’re struggling with leg pain from running, definitely give PRO Compression a try, you won’t regret it.