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DrSugar Answers: Exercising and Leg Pain?

DrSugar is in the house and he's answering your health questions.


Dear DrSugar,
I am 20 years old and I have been exercising regularly for about a year and a half. Although I don't belong to a gym or use a personal trainer, I run around my neighborhood, use my stationary bike, do workout videos, and occasionally go to a yoga class. My question is this: Recently I have started having a lot of pains and I think they are from over-exercising. I have pain in my hips and thighs mostly and they seem to alternate legs. Why is this happening? I work out usually 4-5 days a week for about an hour. Am I not getting enough protein? Not stretching enough? Help!
— Into Fitness

To see what DrSugar has to say on this matter, just read more.

It does sound like you are very dedicated to fitness. Five hours of exercise five days a week sounds like a healthy amount of activity, especially if you are consistent over time. Most overuse injuries occur when you suddenly increase the amount you exercise. For instance, if you haven’t jogged on pavement for a year and suddenly start jogging an hour everyday, this can lead to overuse injuries. That is why they are referred to as “wear and tear” injuries. Overuse injuries can include muscle strains, tendonitis, and stress fractures. Usually these injuries will hurt in one consistent place where the damage has occurred. The fact that your pain is alternating from side to side makes it less likely that you have a stress fracture or another serious injury.

I think the most important issue for you is to determine which forms of exercise are creating pain. Many people develop pain and injuries from jogging on hard surfaces. Here are a few tips on how to avoid running related overuse injuries. I would suggest cutting out your highest impact exercises for a week and see if the pains improve. Dietary protein deficiency is unlikely to cause muscle pains. Protein deficiency usually causes weakness instead of pain. In terms of stretching, it is certainly a good idea to stretch after exercising to keep your muscles flexible to maintain range of motion in your joints. Make sure to warm up before working out. Walk briskly before you jog for five to ten minutes. If the pains persist I suggest seeing a doctor.

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