Why Is My Lower Body in Pain After Running & Walking?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA


How come I can run 10 miles Saturday a.m. with no soreness, but walking 8 miles slowly leaves my entire lower body in pain? Sunday I rested. Monday I did a 5 mile easy run that felt great. It was Tuesday’s slow 8 mile walk that made me sore!

Sherry, the Deep South, USA

Lower bodies of 3 guys

What does a lower body that's in pain look like exactly?

Dear Sore Sherry:

Alexandra: Well, “Day-um” as my other southern friends would say! And “DOMS.” Which is not a way of cussing with a northern accent. It stands for Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness. We talked about it in our suggestively named post “Calves Got a Stiffy,” and feel happy to talk about this topic even more. Essentially, elevating your core temperature (and thereby henceforthwith and so forthy warming up the muscles) within 24 hours of the original cardio exercise will help prevent muscle soreness later on. You don’t have to repeat the 10 mile run, but a walk of just ten minutes should do the trick.

Kymberly: Running is powered primarily by calves and quads. Walking is powered by glutes and shins (and therefore a great cross training or complementary cardio activity). So if you are used to running and added the walking recently, then your body may simply have been adapting to using your muscles in a new or different way. I am not sure if the pace has anything to do with the soreness unless the slow pace dictated or created an unusual gait that did not work for you biomechanically.

graph of Q angle

Q Angle for Women & Men

A: Door #3 – If it’s not delayed muscle soreness, could your pain be caused from overuse? Is it standard for you to do 31 miles in a 4-day span? Somewhere in here I’ll throw out the concept of post-run stretching…oh, there, I just did! With your entire lower body in pain, have you considered shin splints or your Q-angle? If you have fairly wide hips and/or a narrow stance, then your knees might be the ones yelling “ouchy.”

K: When you feel better, run or walk over to our place so you can let us know whether your pain and soreness are in your joints or muscles. If muscles, I’d say pull a Bobby McFerrin: “Don’t worry; Be happy.” If your pain is in the joints, I’d say, “whoa doggies, ask a health professional to assess you.” Do not light up those joints!

Dear Readers: When the crossing light says “Don’t Walk” do you run?

Photo credits: Photobucket and http://ericcressey.com/tag/acl


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