Burning Sensation in the Lower Leg When Running

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Any time you feel pain while running, you need to pay attention, because running is hard on the muscles and joints in the legs. The lower leg consists of the shin, or tibia bone, and calf muscles. Along with these main components, you have connective tissue and veins that may also be the site of the burning sensation. Only your doctor can provide a proper diagnosis of and treatment plan for your condition.

Varicose Veins

One possible source of discomfort in the lower leg is varicose veins. This is a mechanical problem that interferes with the blood flow to the legs. Specifically, valves in the leg veins fail to close completely. This causes blood to pool and the veins to become engorged. Running increases the blood flow to the lower legs and may cause irritation such as a burning sensation. You may also notice swelling in the hands and feet during and after your run.

Occlusive Peripheral Arterial Disease

Occlusive peripheral arterial disease also affects blood flow to the lower legs. When arteries become blocked due to atherosclerosis, the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library explains, the decrease in blood flow may cause discomfort. You may first notice the problem when you are running. When the burning sensation occurs, stop and rest. If the pain subsides, this may suggest that you do have some blockage in an artery. If the burning turns into severe pain, with numbness in the foot or a bluish tint to the skin, seek medical help. An artery that is totally blocked can lead to tissue damage and is a medical emergency.

Muscle Soreness

The soreness that sets into the calf muscles after a run may be causing the burning sensation. Muscle soreness is a natural part of exercise, particularly if you are increasing the resistance by going faster or running farther. You may also have damage to the calf, such as tearing in the connective tissue. This pain would continue after your run. If this is the problem, rest and icing should resolve the discomfort in a few days. Apply ice to the area as soon as you feel the burning and switch to a low-impact exercise until the muscle heals.

Expert Insight

Running is a high-impact task and can cause damage. The burning sensation you feel may indicate a serious condition. If you take any medications or are diabetic, stop running until you see a doctor. Once your doctor examines your legs, you might want to consider an exercise routine that is less stressful, such as swimming or cycling. Discuss your options with the doctor to determine if running is the ideal exercise for you.

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