The main reason for leg pain and injuries is loss of normal motion. We were never shown how to check our body for normal motion. We assume that if there’s no pain and we can exercise then everything is okay. Our bodies have such a capacity to deal with problems that things can be worsening for many years before we feel pain. (Cavities and heart attacks were problems long before the pain started.)
Here’s a quick check for leg motion. Stand with both hands on a wall, arms out straight, and your feet behind you (like you’re getting frisked by the cops, I’m sure you’re familiar). Be sure that your feet are hip width apart and pointing straight ahead. Now put one foot forward with the ball of the foot up onto the bottom of the wall. Keep the back leg straight and heel down. (Picture left.) Slowly move the front knee toward the wall. Normal motion is that the front knee can touch the wall while the back leg is down and straight. (Picture right.) Compare to your other side the same way.
People with chronic foot problems like plantar fasciitis, ankle pain, shin splints, knee pain and hip pain lack this normal motion. Lacking this motion on one or both sides is a critical sign of a problem, regardless of pain. This motion is critical for the body to absorb forces for walking, climbing stairs, running, squatting, and lunging. If you lack this motion, start using the test position as a daily stretch. Hold for 20 seconds feeling a comfortable stretch without straining. Try two or three repetitions. Stretching so far that it causes more pain is just as useless as not feeling any stretch at all. It may have been getting worse for years and it will take time to improve. Using a racquetball, muscle stick, or foam roll to release the tender points in the muscles of the back of the leg and Achilles tendon can be a great help too.
Check out a 2 minute video of this test here:
Good luck and hit me up with any questions.