Most active people who have an injury that prevents them from doing what they love to do would opt for surgery if that is what is necessary to return to sports or exercise. If there was a way to change the activity in order to avoid surgery, could that be a viable option? In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I answer that question for a difficult problem often faced by runners – chronic exertional compartment syndrome.

David L. asks:
I train in powerlifting, but do walking as cardio. I realized I had this swelling on my right lower leg when I walk or run for cardio, usually within the first 10 minutes. After coming across compartment syndrome in my Athletic Injuries course in college, I’m 99% sure this is what I have. If I do have compartment syndrome, is it necessary for me to do surgery? Could I train in powerlifting (squat, bench, deadlift), and stop walking and running for cardio, and instead use other forms of cardio, such as battle ropes?

Chronic exertional compartment syndrome is a condition mainly experienced by runners and joggers, although athletes in sports that involve a lot of running, as well as cyclists and members of the military can develop it as well.

People with this condition notice painful swelling of their legs in the minutes after they begin jogging, or even fast walking. That swelling can make the legs feel like a balloon that is going to pop. They often notice numbness and tingling in the feet.

Nonsurgical treatments, such as working with a physical therapist, are reasonable first-line options, but often the problem persists. Many running athletes choose to undergo surgery in order to return to training.

Can you keep jogging with chronic exertional compartment syndrome?

In this video, I share my thoughts on whether giving up jogging or walking for exercise in order to avoid surgery is a reasonable option and whether it would actually work.

Also read:
Ask Dr. Geier – Recovery from chronic exertional compartment syndrome
Ask Dr. Geier: Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome

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