If you’re experiencing numbness in your feet while running, especially in your calves and lower legs, you might be dealing with a condition known as compartment pressure syndrome. This condition can cause significant discomfort and impede your performance. Understanding the symptoms and knowing when to seek professional help is crucial for addressing this issue effectively.

Understanding Compartment Pressure Syndrome

Compartment pressure syndrome occurs when pressure builds up within the muscle compartments of your leg, typically the calf area. This pressure can restrict blood flow and compress nerves, leading to numbness and sometimes a sensation of losing control over your foot. This condition can escalate to a point where your foot feels like it’s slapping the ground with each step.

Symptoms to Watch For

  • Numbness in the Foot: One of the primary symptoms is numbness in the foot, which often starts gradually and may worsen over time.
  • Calf Tightness: Tightness or discomfort in the calf, particularly after prolonged activity, is another common indicator.
  • Loss of Foot Control: In severe cases, you might experience a lack of control in your foot, causing it to feel heavy or unresponsive.

Seeking Professional Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suspect you have compartment pressure syndrome, it’s essential to consult a sports physician for a thorough evaluation. A professional diagnosis can confirm whether you’re dealing with this condition or if another issue is causing your symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent further complications.

Treatment Options

Treatment for compartment pressure syndrome can range from conservative methods to surgical intervention, depending on the severity of the condition.

1. Conservative Treatments:

  • Rest and Ice: Reducing activity levels and applying ice can help alleviate symptoms.
  • Physical Therapy: Stretching and strengthening exercises tailored by a physical therapist can aid in managing the condition.
  • Compression Gear: Wearing compression socks or sleeves may improve blood flow and reduce symptoms.

2. Surgical Treatment:

  • Fasciotomy: In more severe cases, a surgical procedure called fasciotomy may be necessary. This procedure involves cutting the fascia to relieve pressure within the muscle compartment.

Importance of Early Intervention

Ignoring the symptoms of compartment pressure syndrome can lead to more severe issues, including chronic pain and permanent nerve damage. Therefore, it’s vital to address any unusual sensations or discomfort in your calves and feet promptly.By understanding the signs of compartment pressure syndrome and seeking appropriate medical advice, you can effectively manage this condition and continue your training with reduced discomfort. Remember, prioritizing your health and well-being is essential for long-term athletic success.


With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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