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Introduction: I run a 1.8 mile loop around my neighborhood every morning before class or work. A few years ago, I got sciatica and missed the entire school soccer season. The pain was on my right side lower back, and shot down my left leg. Occasionally the pain would reach the base of my skull. Physical therapy sessions and stretches relieved my pain. Ever since then I feel that I am running improperly.

Problem: First of my problems is, while running, my right leg gets tired before my left. The calf and quad muscles don't ache, but that feeling of getting a good workout. While my left leg I feel no sensation of being tired at all. I feel like one side of my body is being worked out better than the other. Could this be cause my bad posture while running? (i.e Leaning to one side, slouching, or having my torso twisted in one direction) Or, would having one leg longer than the other cause this? Because I get the feeling my legs are two different lengths during specific activities. Secondly, when my right leg hits the ground, it hits hard. It's not as smooth and as low impact as the left leg. I have tried running on my toes, but it's the same. And my calf on my right leg still feels the workout first. I have tried slowing down and running heal-to-toe. Same issue. Could this be caused by any of the issues listed above? Also, in the car, I can not get comfortable. When I look down, my nose does not light up with my bellybutton. It is always lined up just to the left of it. During long car rides, slowly pain starts to creep from my right buttock to my right lower back.

Question: Can anyone at least identify with this? What kind of running shoe insoles should I get to correct these issues? Or do I have to have a doctor check me out for skeletal problems?

Thanks for your help in advance.

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2 Answers 2

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Couple of things:

Are you running on a sidewalk, path or along the side of a road? Is the surface EVEN or slanted to one side? If it is the road it might be slightly slanted. If you run that same loop in the same direction and it is slanted, it can, over time, cause problems. Your hips and gait should be running on even surfaces. If the surface is slanted try to mix up how you run so that you run half of your time with the road slanted in one direction and the other half slanted in the other direction.

Someone above mentioned getting fitted for shoes. VERY important. Buy your running shoes at a running store. You MIGHT end up paying $5 more for a pair of shoes but good running stores fit the TYPE of shoe to the TYPE of runner you are. There are (generally) 3 types of runners out there: neutral, over-pronators and supronators. A good running store will watch you run, classify what type of runner you are and recommend a shoe that fits your body and style.

Lastly, if none of these remedies help see a chiropractor and/or a doctor. You might have something deeper going on. I'd try the above, ensure you are stretching well and then proceed with more drastic measures if nothing gets better. It could easily take a couple of weeks to see results from changing shoes.

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The roads I run on are slanted for rain runoff. Each day I alternate running on each side of the road, and I run in the opposite direction as well. What are some good stores to go to around Boston? I have a feeling a place like Dick's Sporting Goods is not a great place to have my gait examined. They're a retail store, and I know how retail stores train their employees. When I do push-ups, although it's not as drastic as my legs when I run, my right arm gets a better workout too. I feel like I need X-Rays and video of my running to make sure my spin and bosy are straight. Time for doctor. –  SweetSoccerMoves Oct 26 '11 at 3:34
    
@SweetSoccerMoves Yeah, skip Dick's. I've heard good things about the Boston Running Company, and IIRC Bill Rodgers has a shoe store there. I've been to neither, however, so it doesn't really matter what I say. –  Dave Newton Oct 26 '11 at 4:23
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I'd suggest you have your gait studied by an expert. In most large cities you can find either a running coach or a specialist running store that can place you on a treadmill and record your stride on video. They can then offer tips that range from better footplacement, proper arm technique, to corrective shoes.

Many amateur runners discount the importance of being coached or trained in running thinking that it is "natural". Swimming is too, but no one seems to question professional expertise there.

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Any idea on the cost or the effectiveness of getting this done? –  SweetSoccerMoves Oct 24 '11 at 17:47
    
It varies by region, but in Metro Detroit the running stores offer it for free as part of purchase of new shoes and the specialist trainers will do a single session for around $75. As to the effectiveness, my friend recently dropped his 5k time by 5 minutes after a single session and reduced his next day fatigue and soreness. –  Christopher Bibbs Oct 24 '11 at 19:54
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