Peripheral Arterial Disease-Induced Leg Claudication Research At The Running Track

Exercise Improves Leg Claudication

leg claudication

This is a thixotropic, hemostasis, fluid mechanics problem. Image by Double Brain, copyright purchased from ShutterStock.

Run Wisely and Report Your Data

Leg claudication is a pain, especially for those who love to run. You can run the equations or see how you feel.

leg claudication

A thought: beware the potential impact of blood velocity downstream of a constriction on the potential for clotting. See righthand image at top of post. Remember, everyone is guessing, including your doctor, but you are the only expert listening to your body.

True! It is a fluid dynamics problem.

For us runners with leg claudication, it’s a supply and demand problem. Thoughts:

  1. Control the demand and you’ll balance the supply.
  2. Build collateral circulation with exercise and you’ll increase the supply, and thus improve function.

Narrowing of blood vessels limits the delivery of blood to muscles. As you run, you need more blood in leg muscles. This extra blood is essential for the removal of lactate for the Cori Cycle, and provision of energy supplies (glucose, ketones). Ketones?

Ketone bodies are utilized exclusively by extrahepatic (outside liver) tissues; heart and skeletal muscle use them particularly effectively.” – Google!

leg claudication

“It’s not the questions that you solve in life that really matter, so much as the questions that you ask, but beware the hemlock as others might not see it that way.”

Cori Cycle – blood glucose->muscle->converted to lactate->blood lactate->liver->converted to glucose->blood glucose, and round and round it goes. Can your Cori Cycle can keep up with your Bicycle?

For us runners with leg claudication, it really is a supply and demand problem.

  1. Control the demand and you’ll balance the supply/demand equation.
  2. Build collateral circulation with exercise, and you’ll improve the supply, and thus improve function.
  3. Do it too fast and you may encourage clot formation downstream of your stenosis (FitOldDog supposition).

How to use exercise to improve symptoms of leg claudication? Listen to your body, understand the role of flow velocities in a constricted pipe, and experiment wisely.

FitOldDog’s leg claudication experiment at the track.

I had a chance to study my leg claudication calf pain, during a six-mile track run with pickups, with Deb, yesterday.

leg claudicationResults:

  • Run steady pace, high cadence, low-impact style, first two-miles: calf locks up in about quarter mile. Recovers function in about one minute of walking.
  • Sprint for 100 yards: calf locks up within a minute. Recovers function in about two minutes.
  • Run steady, after two miles, low impact and sensing ‘calf-happiness’: locks up in about half-mile. Recovers function in about 30 seconds.
  • Long slow stride mixed with fast shuffle, interchangeably, resulted in the least discomfort. Why? My supposition: It modifies regional blood flow dynamics between flow fields within the calf. Imagine one style requiring more blood in the soleus muscle, another in the gastrocnemius (just a thought).


Pace and style, plus listening to your body, can lead to markedly improved function in runners with leg claudication. Going too fast is counterproductive, and potentially risks increased stenosis (based purely on a Gedankenexperiment).

Keep moving my friends.

kev aka FitOldDog

PS Don’t forget to ask your doctor to explain this image to her/his patients (thanks, kev):

iliac artery stent

Grey is muscle, white is fat, clear ring around the central white spot (bone marrow) is the femoral bone.


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.