Loss of control in the right leg only while running

by Larry Kerr
(Mt. Holly Springs, PA)

I suffer from, for lack of a better phrase, loss of control of the right leg, but only while running. There is no pain, no cramping, no spasms, and no tingling. This only occurs during distance running and only in the right leg.

The leg basically quits working properly and forces me to land well back on my heel. I get no push-off on that leg, forcing my left leg to do the majority of the work and irritating the left hip flexor. Running becomes much harder because I'm using one leg.

If I stop and walk a bit, I can resume running, but only for a limited time.

I have had an MRI and EMG. The MRI shows bulging disk at L4 and L5, but the conclusion was that they are not bulging severely enough to cause the problem, especially when there is no accompanying pain.
The EMG showed a nerve in the right leg is being affected, but not the source.

No other activities are affected, including lifting weights and walking.

There's something going on, Larry, but it's going to take a careful and thorough examination to figure it out.

I would agree with your doc about the MRI. The L4-L5 disc wouldn't affect your toe-off on your leg. That's the gastroc - soleus muscle complex, mainly S1.

I wonder if that irritation in your thigh isn't an important clue. It's points to something high in the lumbar spine, or perhaps the sacro-iliac, or the hip. No groin pain or stiffness? Can you pull your knee to your chest and rotate the hip, equally both sides?

Short leg?

Do the "Slump test" that you'll find at Chiropractic Help, and ask your chiro to do the Femoral nerve stretch test. Can't do it at home.

Keep looking, keep thinking. There's a basis to it. A FICS trained chiro would be a good idea.

Let me know who finds out what the problem is. Interesting.

Dr b

Comments for Loss of control in the right leg only while running

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Mar 13, 2021
Have the same issue
by: Anonymous

I have had the same problem for a few months now. The distance I can run without my right leg playing up is reducing and I am concerned.

Never had the problem before. Am 50 and run twice a week but losing the will to continue unfortunately.

Any thoughts or progress since the original post?

Aug 05, 2017
Most Frustrating Injury Ever! (continued)
by: Anonymous

Thank you for your response. To answer your questions: no real back pain, my sports medicine doctor has done all of those tests you have mentioned with me. I have also had an MRA of both legs to look at the blood flow in my arteries..(looking for iliac artery endofibrosis) which was normal.

My sports medicine doctor does not think my symptoms are due to my bulging disc as the foot drop only occurs on the left side.

My sports medicine doctor feels it could be compartment syndrome so I am going to be tested for that....I think that we've pretty well ruled everything else out??? However, I am questioning whether my symptoms fit with compartment syndrome as I do not experience pain in my legs while running, just a feeling of loss of control/foot drop in my left leg...have you heard of any cases of chronic exertional compartment syndrome in runners presenting with only foot drop but no pain like myself? NO, I HAVE NOT.

Please go back and answer the questions I have asked, each one in detail.

Dr B

Jun 21, 2017
Most Frustrating Injury Ever!
by: Anonymous

I have a similar problem. I lose control of my left leg when running; this has been going on for 3 years.

When it started I could still run at least 6 or 7 km before it would happen but it has gotten progressively worse; now I can only run for 1 or 2 minutes before I am forced to stop due to inability to properly lift up my left foot and fear of falling; I actually have tripped and fallen a few times. I have had every test done; EMG, hip x-rays, ABI measurements, MRI .....all insignificant.

However my MRI did show a bulging disc at L4-L5 which my specialist indicated was not significant as there was no nerve impingement. However my chiropractor feels that impingement may be occurring when I'm running. So wondering if this is the case, could a facet injection at L4/L5 area possibly relieve my symptoms? I can do weights, elliptical work outs and bike with no problems.

Yes, I can understand your frustration. You make no mention of back pain; no problems?

Sitting in a normal chair, flex your head on your chest, and then straighten the good leg parallel to the ground; ask a friend to dorsiflex your ankle. Now repeat with the naughty leg. Is there a significant difference? Where?

Standing, raise first your right big toe, and ask your friend to press down on the toe; repeat with the left. Is it equally strong?

Do this also for the tibialis anterior muscle: google it or ask your chiropractor to test it.

What you are in essence describing is a 'foot drop' provoked by running. No pain in the leg when this happens? Just weak and can't lift foot? Have someone test the pulses in your foot and ankle; "intermittent claudication" needs to be considered.

If that bulging disc is the problem, and it might be, the weights wouldn't be advisable.

I take it the reflexes, including the very important medial hamstring reflex are normal. And there's no difference right and left to pin prick?

Lying on your back, ask a friend to raise your straight right leg, and remember the tightness behind the calf and thigh; that's normal. Is the left any different? Now dorsiflex the ankle; is that much more painful the right? Much tighter?

If you bend straight forward, are the two legs equally tight?

Let me have some answers and we can continue this; keep to the same thread.

Dr B

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Chiropractic help Questions (Low back pain).

Did you find this page useful? Then perhaps forward it to a suffering friend. Better still, Tweet or Face Book it.

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Then forward it to a friend. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.