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What is anterior compartment syndrome?

Running might sound like a uncomplicated activity to take up to increase your fitness. However, it's not quite as straightforward as it may seem with some scientific studies finding that up to three-quarters of runners experience an exercise related injury each year. Depending upon how serious that overuse injury is and how it is treated, many runners just give up and don't continue to run. The reasons for running overuse injury are multifactorial but are related to issues such as carrying out too much running too soon before allowing your body to adjust to the increased degrees of running. Bad running footwear with characteristics which do not match up with those of the runners requirements may also be an issue. Disorders of foot biomechanics and the running technique may also be issues at increasing the probability for an injury.

A good example of a running injury is anterior compartment syndrome. There is fibrous fascia surrounding muscles that hold the muscles in place. If that fascia is tight, once we exercise the muscle tries to expand however that restricted fascia inhibits it. That compression inside the fascia compartment can be painful. In anterior compartment syndrome, this involves the muscles in the front of the leg. The most frequent cause of this problem is what is called overstriding. In this the runner is hitting the ground with their front leg too far in ahead of the body. To lower the foot to the ground, the anterior leg muscles need to work harder. As they keep working harder, the muscles expand and if the fascia does not allow it, then this will become painful. It is going to only be painful when running and will not be painful when not running. The best way to deal with this problem to use techniques for the runner to shorten their stride length to ensure the lead foot isn't going to contact the ground too far in front of the body when running.