Sharp stabbing pain in length of right leg

Hi there,

I've tried to find out what this is and having difficulty so thought I'd just post to see if anyone can advise!

Out on my LSR today after an easy week, everything felt fine and good, then suddenly at about 5 miles I get sharp pain in my right leg. Tried to stretch off and figure out what it might be and carry on, but very soon realised I had to stop completely, and hobble off to a tube.

It's a sharp stabbing pain all down my right leg (from hip to foot). Much worse on walking where its really very painful, but on resting it feels like a dull ache and uncomfortable (almost feels out of place). I've had ITB things in the past and this is very different to that, and similarly any muscular niggle I have ever had, and so its making me think it might be trapped nerve?? It came on with no wanring - had no pain like this before and no issues with my right leg at all. Was running very slow and didn't trip or notice anything that caused it. Just sudeen, very intense pain. Massaing and heat are helping.

Any advice on what this might be down to would be great as it certainly deosn't feel muscular or a joint problem, and is really very painful!


  • Could be a trapped nerve or something similar.  Sciatica springs to mind but I'm not aware that it can come on as suddenly as this, but hey, I'm no expert.

    Sciatica in runners is often caused by a muscle imbalance.  Weak core and glutes are often to blame, causing over working and inflammation of some mucles which then press on the nerves.

    I would recommend seeing a physio to get a proper diagnosis rather than relying on the often misguided but well intentioned advice of the internet.

    The good news is that if it is sciatica then it doesn't have to stop you running as long as you are comfortable to do so and can be sorted out fairly quickly.

  • Yeah, need to find a physio, just away all next week which is a pain! Will try hunt one down though image

    Thanks for the advice. My core tends to be ok, but have had a few issues with quads before so might have muscle imbalances there. Its just such a pain as liteally came from nowhere. Good to hear it might not stop be completely though. Guess it'll be a 'see how it goes' thing, but will get in the pool more to help stretch it out

  • sounds like sciatica/piriformis syndrome. The difference between them is whether the nerve is getting irritated starting at your back, or starting in your hip area where it goes around or through (depending on your personal anatomy) the piriformis muscle. There are some good stretches to help with piriformis syndrome, one of which is also good for diagnosis: kneel down and bring the foot of the bad leg (the side the pain is on) round in front of the other knee, so that the knee of the bad side is pointing forwards and the foot is pointing backwards but on the outside of the other leg. Now slide the GOOD leg backwards and bow down, if possible so your forehead is on the ground. You should feel the stretch in your hip area. If you do this on both sides and the stretch is much more painful on the bad side, then I'd say you've probably got piriformis syndrome. There are other stretches as well - just Google for "piriformis syndrome stretch", and there's a gret technique to help with the spasming by lying down with a tennis ball under your glutes -I can describe that further if you decide it is piriformis.

    HOWEVER, you might want to get a doctor to rule out a cause in your back first.

  • Thanks for this Debra, very good advice.

    Sounds more liek piriformis syndrome. Going to get stretching it. Do you have an idea how long it should take to recover, and how best to get back into running? Don't want the same thing happening again! Pain is quite a bit better but still not right, so going to do lots of gentle stretching and maybe stretch it out using a stationary bike or such tomorrow.

  • Mine flared four weeks before my first marathon, I limped on for another week then went to the physio and didn't run for nearly three weeks! Still ran the marathon and it was fine.

    You need to do specific stretches - like the one I mentioned, and one on this video:

    Also, get a tennis ball, and sit or lie down with this under your butt, then roll around until you find where it really hurts. Hold it there for 10-20 seconds with your body weight pressing down, then roll it around again - Google for "piriformis syndrome tennis ball" for better descriptions. I found the ball really useful and I could actually feel the tight muscle relaxing. I did this lying down with the foot of the bad side crossed over the kee of the other side (as for one of the stretches you'll find advised).

    I don't think using a stationary bike will help it at all.

    Good luck!

  • Mine is intermittent.  I need to keep the stretches up or it comes back.  There are also some activities in my day to day life that can make it worse.  Its not always caused just by running, but running can be the straw that broke the camels back.

    The main causes for me are posture related when sitting down.  My physio helped me to set my car seat up correctly (I was spnding about 3 hours per day in the car at the time) and I also changed the way I sat at my desk at work, primarily using a foot rest but also adjusting a few other bits and bobs.

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