The benefits of physical activity for a healthy mind and body are undeniable, which is why it is especially frustrating when exercise-induced pain hinders our ability to achieve these benefits. Studies have discovered a small proportion of the active population are limited in their exercise capacity due to a condition known as Exertional Compartment Syndrome. The muscles in our lower limbs are separated into compartments, contained by relatively inelastic structures known as fascial sheaths. When the volume of fluid within these compartments increases, in response to trauma or exercise, pressure also increases. It is the rise in intra-compartmental pressure that stimulates a painful sensation felt in the muscles of the involved compartment. This painful symptom may occur in conjunction with neural sensations such as numbness, tingling or burning. The nature of Exertional Compartment Syndrome is such that symptoms are consistently experienced in response to physical activity, typically of consistent intensity, duration or distance. Given that symptoms are stimulated by physical exertion, it follows that alleviation of pain is achieved with cessation of activity. Relief can occur immediately following cessation of activity or may occur after 15-30 minutes of rest, depending on the severity of the syndrome. To ensure these symptoms are accurately diagnosed and therefore appropriately managed, a consultation with your local podiatrist is of paramount importance.
By Thomas McMahon @bpod