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numbness & mild pain lower thigh

Posted by kgreenephd

I am 57, and have been a recreational runner for 35 years--currently about 15 miles per week.  I am hoping to start training for a fourth marathon (last was 7 years ago). 

During the last six months or so, I've developed a mild, but (slowly) progressive numbness and pain on the outside of my right leg that runs for about six inches above my knee.  The pain is mild enough that it does not require medication, but the fact that it is persistent and progressive is worrisome.

What is your wisdom and advice? 

Answers (1)
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Hi kgreenephd,

You and I have had similar experiences in running, although I'm older than you. I've been a recreational runner for 35 years and have run four marathons. My marathons were run 26-27 years ago.

Numbness usually means there is a problem with your nerves or circulation, such as a pinched nerve. If this is the case with you, you should be checked out by a doctor. This would be wise since the condition has existed for six months and is slowly progressing. However, you mentioned there is also pain, and if the two symptoms are related, you might have an injury that is putting pressure on a nerve or an artery/vein.

One injury that runners frequently have is with their ITB, which is a long muscle on the outside of their leg that runs from their hip down the side of their leg. If it were me, I would be sure I was stretching properly, especially my hips, knees, and ITB. When we think of stretching we usually think of elongating muscles, but stretching also has a more important purpose -- strengthening our muscles. Yes, our muscles do need to be elongated via stretching, but, and I think more importantly, they need to be strengthened.

Here are the stretches I do. I do them all before I run, and I do the ones related to my legs and ITB after I run. Some runners say not to stretch before one runs, because the muscles are cold and more likely to be injured. They have a good point. When I stretch, I'm very gentle with my muscles. I don't try to maximize the elongation of the muscles. I don't jerk them because they react by becoming tighter. I just gently pull them a bit, and if they seem especially tight I don't pull them as much.

I'm not a doctor and can't give professional help. My comments are just suggestions based on my 35 years experience as a runner, my reading of the running literature, and my talking with other runners.


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