What is anterior compartment syndrome?

Running might sound like a straightforward activity to take up to improve your fitness. However, it's not necessarily quite as simple as it might appear with some research finding that up to three-quarters of runners get an injury each year. Depending upon how bad that injury is and just how it is treated, many runners just give up and do not continue to run. The factors that cause running injury are multifactorial but they are linked to problems for example carrying out too much running too soon before allowing the body to adjust to the increased levels of running. Poor running shoes with design features that do not match up with those of the runners requirements can be a factor. Disorders of foot biomechanics and the running technique may also be problems at increasing the risk for an overuse injury.

A good example of an overuse injury is anterior compartment syndrome. There is fibrous fascia surrounding muscles which hold the muscles in position. In the event that fascia is tight, if we exercise the muscle would want to expand but that tight fascia prevents it. That pressure within the fascia compartment may be painful. In anterior compartment syndrome, this involves the muscles that are on front of the lower 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 continue to work harder, the muscles expand and if the fascia isn't going to allow it, then this may become painful. It will only hurt when running and will not be painful when not running. The best way to deal with this problem to use approaches 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.