Running is one of the most time-efficient and inexpensive ways for you to get into great aerobic shape and firm up your body in the bargain. But it's also notoriously hard on your legs, especially if you're unfamiliar with the strategies experienced runners use to keep typical leg aches and pains at bay. Every part of the front of your legs, for example, is susceptible to its own unique maladies.
If you are merely sore from working out, you will probably feel it on both sides of your legs, in which case you likely have nothing to worry about, but should take it easy for a day or two. According to "Running Times" magazine, the most common causes of serious thigh pain in distance runners are severe muscle strains, thigh bone stress fractures and referred pain from a ruptured disk in the lower spine that is pressing on a nerve root. Muscle strains will often be accompanied by bruising, weakness and loss of flexibility. Massage may be painful. Treatment includes physical therapy and deep tissue massage.
Although the back of the knee occasionally hurts after a run, most aches and pains in this very frequent site of injury lie in the front of the knee, usually under the kneecap. The most common knee injury in runners is patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as chondromalacia patellae, but usually called "runner's knee." This occurs when the kneecap doesn't track properly in its groove in the bottom of the thigh bone, resulting in an erosion of local cartilage. Treatment involves rest, ice, anti-inflammatories and, in some cases, quadriceps-strengthening exercises.
Shin pain is a common complaint among novice runners, those who have recently upped their mileage, and runners who have begun training on harder-than-usual surfaces. Worn-out shoes can contribute in each of these cases. Most of the time, the pain is bilateral and attributable to shin splints, which tend to respond well to icing and removal of the offending stimuli noted above. If you run on shin splints for a long enough period, they may develop into stress fractures, which will shelve you for about eight weeks.
Your ankle is susceptible to all manner of running-related injuries, including sprains, stress fractures and a condition called tenosynovitis, which is inflammation of the sheath surrounding the tendons passing into the foot from the lower leg. Pain in the front of the ankle is often the result of tibialis anterior tendinitis. This pain is worse on activity, but may also be present when you awaken in the morning. Rest is essential for healing; ice and compression also are useful in getting you back on the roads and trails.