Entire Left Leg Tendonitis? Haven't been able to run for a year

by Lyndon
(Brisbane, QLD, Australia)

I have taken a year out of running in an attempt to treat my my left leg. Initially I just rested from running for 4 months and cycled or windsurfed.

It started with really stiff calf muscles and an inability to walk in the normal heel-toe foot motion when first getting out of bed in the mornings. This was initially for both legs and feet. There was no pain just a stiffness / weakness that seemed to improve after warming up. My right leg healed.

My left leg has never healed. I did have a sore left ankle from running. Local sports running shop analysis suggested my left foot pronates slightly. Although I have always been a neutral runner. I think the pronation is caused by the weakness and not the other way round.

My return to running enabled me to run for up to 2 hours without problems. It was not until I started to run a bit faster that the problem returned in my left leg and I was right back to day one with it.

X-rays and physio eliminated sciatica. I do sometimes get pins and needles on the outside of my left quadracep. Phsio identifed a really stiff top left hamstring. Dry needled and ultra sound was tried. I felt like the physio was just attempting or exploring different things every time I returned and no problem was identied to work on.

Podiatrist tried low dye strapping which appeared to eliminate the problem so long as the strapping is on, but without the strapping it is no good.

I started a stretching routine that I now do every day or two after a warm shower or bath. The stretch that has the most affect is one where I lie on my back on the floor, raise my left knee to my chest, point my left foot to the ceiling, grap my left foot and pull it towards my head with my knee bent. This really releases the hamstring muscle nicely. I also do light weight dead-lifts every other day to warm up and stretch out the hamstrings. It feels good afterwards.

I now am between appointments with a remedial massage therapist this appears to loosen up a things and am beginning to identify individual problem areas. I also have another appointment with a sports physiotherapist coming up.

now it feels as though there is a string starting in my lower back, running through my left glute, down my hamstring, then down the skin and along the top of my foot and from my inside of my ankle under my foot to my big toe that has been pulled to be slightly stiffer than my right leg. My left shin tendon clicks ever time I taken a few steps. I feel as though my left foot hits the ground harder than my right when I walk or jog a few steps. The remedial massage therapist says my left ankle was stiff like wood, he even asked if I had broken it - answer no.

This has stopped me from running for a year and it was initially just my entire left leg that was an unidentifable problem area, it was simply weaker and stiffer than my right leg.

Now I think its the tendons that join my left leg to my hip, my left hamstring, my left shin, my tendon from the inside of my left ankle to under my foot and the tendon along the top of my foot to my big toe as well as the outside of my left quadracep.

This is over a year long episode now. I really want to start healing this soon. The only question is what exactly is it and whatever it is I need to do, I will do it, but am not sure. Is there medication - oh yeah I did spend a week in rest on ibuprofen and paracetomal to try to cure it before I went to the doctor and was referred for x ray.

Am happy to answer any questions you may have. I hope you are able to assist.

Would compression clothing help this problem?

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Jan 09, 2010
PART 2 - Entire Left Leg Tendonitis? Haven't been able to run for a year
by: The Tendonitis Expert

Joshua Answers:

Hi Lyndon. Thanks for all the details. I will have questions, but let me chat a bit first.

1. This is complicated. I won't have all the answers and it's unlikely I can give you an exact solution here, especially without being able to see you in a hands-on capacity.

But I can start pointing you in the right direction.

2. It's safe to say that rest won't help you, taking another year off running won't help you.

Medication won't help you. It's not a medication kind of problem.

I can't see compression clothing doing what you want it to do. It's not that kind of problem. And anyway, while it might let you run a mile, it won't/doesn't deal with the source of the problem.

'Healing' isn't quite the right word. It's more like 'your body has moved into a physical/mechanical dynamic and now it's stuck in it, so you need to reverse the posture/use mechanics'. To me, 'healing' implies 'injured'. I don't think you're injured, I think you're body is out of whack and you're stuck in a structureal pain dynamic.

If you break your arm, that needs healing. If you run a marathon without any preparation, that needs healing. I think that you are more a case of your pelvic alignment is off and/or some lower leg muscles are WAY chronically stuck tight, you ran a lot, didn't give your body the nutrition it needed, muscles and connective tissue got short and tight on one side but not the other side, your body compensated and tries to keep you moving, but now you're like your ankle....stiff and stuck, and your nervous system is locking down a bit to protect you.

My point is, I doubt the hamstring tendon is the SOURCE of the problem. With you we're looking more at the muscles and connective tissue that pull on the tendons. We're looking at a lot of things, actually.


1. Age.

2. How much were you running, how long have you been running? I suspect that you used to/want to run A LOT.

3. You said it started with calf stiffness when first getting up, but you also said legs. Please clarify, was it calf only, foot only, the whole leg and foot, just lower leg?

Say more about how you couldn't walk normal until you warmed up.

(CONTINUED IN PART 3)(dumb 3,000 character limit!)

Jan 09, 2010
PART 3 - Entire Left Leg Tendonitis? Haven't been able to run for a year
by: The Tendonitis Expert


4. When you say 'remedial' massage therapist, what does that mean? I'm guessing it means something different than it does here in the states.

5. It sounds like your entire left side is stiff/tight. Does it actually hurt? Is it just NOTICEABLY stiff? Do you have a full stride? How's your range of motion?

6. In general, describe your food intake/nutritional intake/calorie intake now, and when you were running.

7. Has the physio checked your pelvic alignment? Anterior and/or posterior tilt? IlioPsoas muscles? (It's possible that your hamstrings aren't too tight, but that they/it is over stretched because that side of the pelvis is tilted forward, which lengthens the hamstrings, so they think they're being pulled apart, so they tighten up even more but CAN'T let go because they're already to lengthened.)

That's good for now. Answer those, and we'll go from there.

Jan 10, 2010
PART 4 - Entire Left Leg Tendonitis? Haven't been able to run for a year
by: Lyndon

Hi Joshua, In answer to questions:

1) Age 34

2) Running 10 Km four times a week and up to 2 hr weekend run or 5Km worth of interval speed session.

3) Lower leg calf and feet. Stiff calf muscles and weakess in my feet - it wasn't easy to lift my heel and shift weight to the balls of my feet when walking - but not painful - just weakness.

A shuffle jog to warm up and I felt I was able to run. I did find it easier to shift the weight on my feet towards my heels when running.

4) Deep tissue sports massage.

5) Not in pain - just stiffness. Range of motion whilst walking or running is normal. My left leg is not able to stride out as far forward (get as much air time) and also lands 'harder'.

6) Food intake pretty healthy. Plenty fresh fruit and vegetables. Grilled meat or fish. No oil in cooking. Olive oil on salads. No sugars - honey or sweetners. 2L water daily. BMI = 25.

Supplements: 1 Daily Multi Vitamin. 1 B Complex. Glucosamine. Branch chain aminos (when exercising hard) Tried Magnesium + Calcium when things started to go wrong.

7) X-rays reported normal spine and pelvis position. Sport massage guy reckons my pelvis was tilted slightly down/forward on the left side - which appeared aligned immediately after the massage - but I am going back tomorrow and will ask specific questions.

Seriously out of whack muscles I think is a good description.


Joshua Comments:

3. Wow. Sounds like reall really short/tight/stiff Soleus (muscle under gastrocs).

4. Describe the deep tissue massage. Who what how where when?

5. Stiffness not pain...GOOD.

Normal range? I doubt that. Go for a walk and see if you can see any difference between 'normal' and 'what you have become used to'.

6. How many calories would you say you eat/ate when you were running for hours and hours?

So far it sounds like WAY LOW calories, and WAY LOW protein. This plays a role for sure in recovery/repair and I bet plays a role in where you're at.

7. Your sports massage guy should be able to tell if one or both sides is anteriorly or posteriorly rotated. When you say 'reckoned' that has me think s/he wasn't really sure.

Have him/her check out your psoas ROM too.

Seriously out of whack. Let's go with that:)

Jun 02, 2010
by: Lyndon

Hi Joshua,

I have since discovered that my left spinae erector stiffened because it was out of balance with the right one.

This lifted by pelvice 1cm. Weaker lower abdominals has also tilted by pelvice forwards and the left pelvice was also twisted.

This affected my gait whilst running and strained my calves. It also shortened my left leg which affected my left ankle.

I am working on balancing the erector spinae and strengthening lower abdominals using an exercise ball. And, balancing my pelvis daily.

I feel the benefits and am on the road to recovery.


Joshua Comments:


Some things are just tough to do over the internet, especially pelvis/hip allignment issues. :)

I'm glad you saw someone in person who knew what they were doing!

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