Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome (Recipe: Oreo Stuffed Brownies)

Chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS) is a frequently overlooked cause of discomfort in runners. It is often experienced in the lower legs, and it is commonly confused with diagnoses such as shin splints and tibial stress fractures.

I, for one, had never heard of such a thing.

Chronic exertional compartment syndrome occurs when the volume of the muscle increases during exercise, thanks to the increased blood flow prompted by exercise. While this is normal, discomfort occurs when the muscle size increases to the point that the fascial compartment wrapped around it becomes tight. The result is building pressure in the area, which can be painful.

Charlie Boeyink, a physical therapist and coach in Glendale, Arizona, says that diagnosis can be tricky because symptoms can occur in different parts of the leg. “If it is the posterior compartment, which involves the calf, it will likely be pain, cramping, tightness, swelling, and at times, numbness and tingling in the calf area,” he explains. “If it is more the anterior compartment, these symptoms will be felt in the front and towards the outer shin.”

Unlike other injuries such as shin splints, pain and numbness associated with compartment syndrome usually lingers long after exercise because of the pressure that has built up in the compartment as the muscle expanded.

“Bumping up mileage too quickly or adding interval or speed work before the soft tissues have adapted to base training are common culprits,” says Boeyink. “Unfortunately there are also some folks who have an anatomical tendency for fascial restrictions that can lead to compression of a compartment.”

In addition to rolling back training, there are a number of other measures you can take to treat CECS: rest, gentle stretching, soft tissue mobilizations to free up fascial restrictions, and an assessment of any other biomechanical factors that may be contributing.

There you have it! And we are on taper week, folks!  The countdown to the marathon is on!  As is checking the weather like a crazy person! Yesterday, Shawn and I did our last LR for this training session.  8 miles on the Ironwood Trail and around Shelley Lake.  It was a beautiful day for a run! Shawn and I got to talking while running, and when we looked at our pace at the 4 mile turn around, we saw that we had averaged a 7:50 pace for the first 4 miles!  What!? It’s supposed to be a slow, easy run!  And there had been hills!!  Needless to say, we slowed way way down for the second 4 miles.

Fun Fact:  People could do 17% more reps when well-hydrated according to University of Connecticut researchers.

Food for Thought:  Red Meat.  It’s a good source of energy-supplying B12.

2 years ago: Bloody Noses and Resurfacing Blisters (Recipe: Cookie Cake Pie)

Quote of the Day:

“Now bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible.” -Ligarius in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

I made these brownies for A on one of his visits here many visits ago.  If you are craving chocolate, these are for you!  Lots and lots of chocolate!  Yumm….you could also substitute your own brownie recipe if you already have a favorite brownie recipe!

Oreo Stuffed Brownies

Oreo Stuffed Brownies


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1 package oreos (double stuff is best!)


– Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13 pan.

– In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it’s hot, but not bubbling; it’ll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating the mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.

– While the sugar heats a second time, beat the eggs, cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla until smooth. Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.

– Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth.

– Spoon half of the batter into the greased pan. Place the Oreos in even rows across the batter (as many as you can fit). Pour the remaining batter over the Oreos and gently spread to the edges of the pan. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the brownies for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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