A Highett physio explains the most common causes of leg pain

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A Highett physio explains the most common causes of leg pain

So you’ve got leg pain, and you can’t walk it off.

Owing to the fact that our legs are some of our most-used limbs, leg pain and injury are extremely common, and one of the most popular conditions our Highett physios help clients out with.

Whether it’s a sharp ache following sport or exercise or a dull throbbing that’s been with you for a while, there are very few pains quite as debilitating as leg pain.

When it comes to leg pain, there are 3 main culprits…

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Suspect #1: overuse

Do you spend a lot of time on your feet? If so, there’s a good chance that your leg pain is the result of an overuse injury.

Certain movements cause trauma on the nerves, muscles, tendons and ligaments in your legs. Under normal circumstances, this trauma is nothing at all, and you never feel any adverse effects.

When these movements are repeated over and over, day-in, day-out however, it adds up.

Repetitive motions and movements cause repeated strain on your legs, leading to what we in the business call overuse injuries.

Shin splints

Shin splints are an umbrella category that refers to a range of issues that can pop up in and around your shin bone.

In many cases, shin splints actually refer to overuse injuries in the muscles around your lower tibia (shin bone).

Runners are especially prone to this, especially if you use a heel-first technique. This type of running style sends the most shockwaves up your calf muscles and shins, leading to leg pain.

In most cases, this type of muscle damage takes the form of microtears along your muscles, but in some instances, it can even result in your muscles completely separating from the bone – ouch!


Essentially, tendons are fibrous connective tissue that attach muscles to bone. In conjunction with your ligaments (which attach bone to bone), they allow you to move your leg.

Naturally, when a problem arises with your tendons, you will suffer a dramatic loss of mobility (as well as possibly some nasty pain!) 

In many cases, tendinitis is the result of overuse.

Tendons aren’t solid like bone.

Just like your leg muscles, tendons can be damaged by repeated strain or usage. The achilles tendon is one tendon in your leg that our Highett physios find themselves treating regularly.

Again, hobbies and jobs which involve a lot of repetitive leg motions are one of the biggest risk factors in developing tendinitis – something that can be avoided with proper conditioning and technique (more on that later).

Suspect #2: injuries

If you’re an athlete (especially if you compete in a contact sport), you’re probably had your fair share of injuries over the years.

When it comes to your legs, there are a couple of leg injuries that are especially common…

Muscle strains

When it comes to muscle strains, there are two types:

  1. Acute
  2. Chronic

Since we’re focusing on injuries at the moment, we’ll only be talking about the first type.

Acute strains are the result of a trauma or injury, not overuse or general wear. Some of the most common examples include:

  • Over-stressing the muscles
  • Improperly lifting heavy objects
  • High-intensity exercise

When it comes to leg pain, the calf muscle is the most common location of a strain. Like sprains, strains are graded on a 1-3 scale of intensity, with 3 representing a total tearing or rupture of your calf muscle.

No matter how severe your strain is, our Highett physiotherapists can help!

ACL injuries

If you follow the footy, you’ve probably heard the words “ACL injury” being thrown around many times before.

But what exactly is an ACL, and what does an ACL injury look like?

The “anterior cruciate ligament” is one of the key ligaments. It’s main jobs are to:

  1. Connect the thigh bone and the shin bone at the knee
  2. Stabilise your knee joint
  3. Control forward motion

Needless to say, it’s pretty darn important!

Certain sports – in particular, the ones that require frequent changes of direction, falls and tackles – put additional strain on the ACL.

In many cases, a sharp change in direction can cause ACL sprains, and even tear the ACL altogether.

And when that happens, its ability to perform all three of its functions vanishes (not to mention, it hurts too!)


Over time, muscles, tendons and ligaments lose their elasticity, and become fragile – a lifetime of usage tends to have that effect.

As the years pass, you may experience:

  • Stiffness in tendons and ligaments
  • Decreasing muscle mass
  • Deterioration of cartilage in your joints

All of this can lead to mild soreness or aching, especially in your legs, that only increases the older you become.

While good diet and exercise can delay this, there’s no cure.

However, that doesn’t mean that you have no options – in many cases, our Highett physiotherapists can help older clients work around the wear-and-tear of their muscles, joints and ligaments, allowing them to maintain their lifestyle and hobbies.

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Physiotherapy for leg pain

Depending on the cause of your leg pain, our Highett physiotherapists may prescribe a range of different treatments that target your unique symptoms.

For example, say you’ve recently experienced a sports injury in one of your legs.

In these cases, we’ll create a custom routine that may include:

  • Strength-building exercise
  • Joint mobilisation
  • Progressively reintroducing motion
  • Adjustments to your technique
  • Take home exercises to maintain your progress

It all depends on your unique condition!

Our physiotherapists in Highett begin with an in-depth initial consultation (which can also be done online) that examines your symptoms and identifies the root cause of your pain.

It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised by how many times we discover that the actual cause is in a completely different part of the body from where the pain is felt!

Get back on your feet – call our Highett physio team today

Life with pain can be tough. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be permanent.

Feeling leg pain? Leg it to your Highett physio, ASAP!

At Physio AUS, our specialty is in helping you overcome pain.

In addition to physiotherapy for leg pain, our physiotherapists in Highett can also assist with all sorts of aches, sprains, and injuries, ranging from acute injuries to chronic pain from an accident long ago.

Whether it’s your leg, back or any other part of your body, if you’re fed up with pain, get in touch with our team today on 1300 392 552, or click here to book online.

Can’t make it in-person? We also offer online consultations and pilates sessions too!

By |2020-07-28T13:25:38+00:00March 31st, 2020|Legs, Physio|0 Comments

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