Repetitive Strain Injury/Lower Calf and Ankle Pain



My mum has suffered with pain in her Mid Calf to her ankle for over twenty years now. Originally she appeared to have suffered from some initial injury in her left leg but did not realise how serious it was so continued walking on it for a few weeks before the pain became really bad. When she eventually went to see her doctor and was referred to see a Consultant he told her that he thought that she had suffered a tear in her muscle and because she did not rest it at the time this exaggerated her injuries and has meant that the problem was made a lot worse.

It has now been twenty years since she first suffered the initial injury to her leg and her leg is very bad and sometimes she can hardly walk on it. What I would like to know is what is the best treatment for this type of leg injury affecting her lower calf and ankle? And because my mum is now 82 can her leg still be cured? And treated successfully? Or does her age complicate and make the treatment more difficult?

My mum has seen a physiotherapist and has complained that after the massaging of her leg that her leg is so painful that she can barely walk. She also mentioned that the physiotherapist massages her leg too hard and this is causing her leg to feel particularly painful. Should the physio and the massaging cause her leg to feel more painful? Is that how all treatments are?

Many thanks,

ANSWER: Hi Hayden,

I am always of the thinking that something can be changed and that it is never too late. That may be a bit Pollyanna, but I've seen miracles such as a man named Morris Goodman who was paralyzed from a plane crash and told he would never move or speak again, and yet he came back and now speaks around the world telling people to never give up (Google - Morris Goodman, the Miracle Man).

With that said, I'm not saying it will be easy, and both time and age may make it take longer or may not get back to 100%, but I do believe it can be made to be tolerable.

When the physiotherapist is doing the treatment, is s/he pressing and sliding on your mom's skin? I've had that type of therapy and my muscles ached for days afterward so I'm not of fan of it. I much prefer pressing in one spot, only going to where the pain is described as "hurts so good," and staying still so the body can release the toxins and the muscles can gradually ease.  I've found that this is far more effective than pressing and sliding.  

I am assuming that your mother's physician has assured that she doesn't have any blood clots in her legs, right?  This is a very important step and needs to be done before doing any type of deep work on her lower legs.

Please go to and you can read about muscles and the why/how of chronic pain.  I teach people how to self-treat because a person will never go too deep on themselves (well, some athletes may, but that's not your mom).  The best part of self-treatment is that once it is learned, it can be done anytime and anywhere. So if her legs ache during the day, she can release the muscle spasms herself.

There are lighter therapies that she may want to explore, specifically one called myofascial release (MFR).  The therapist is quite gentle, and since the myofascia can be very tight and restricting the muscles, releasing it is very beneficial.  Look for a therapist who is well-trained in the techniques, ask how long they have been doing MFR and see if you feel they are confident in their knowledge of the method.

Wishing you well,
   Julie Donnelly

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks a million for your advice Julie! My mum was all but giving up hope of ever getting any relief from this problem and now thanks to your kind words she feels that there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

And my mum had some blood tests done again recently and she definitely does not have any blood clots in her legs. All of the blood tests came back negative and so she appears to be in good health apart from her leg problems.

She also welcomes news about different types of massage techniques that do not involve so much pain. We will look into the Myofascial Release as you suggested and will try to find a suitably qualified therapist too.

The type of massage therapy you described which just involves putting your hands onto the "Pain Spot" and then staying still so the body can release the toxins and the muscles can gradually ease. Does this type of massage therapy have a name? Is this something we can ask for? And is there a Youtube Video where we can see this in action?

I have also mentioned the website you kindly sent me the link for and I will encourage her to perform the Self-Massage techniques that you suggested every day.

Many thanks,

ANSWER: Hi Hayden,

I'm so glad to hear that your mother is finding encouragement, that's so important to her healing.

Did you go to  I wrote a book titled "Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living" and I believe it will be very helpful to your mother.  I'd suggest that she do all of the treatments for the lower leg.  Also, there are muscles (specifically one of the quadriceps called Rectus Femoris) that pulls the pelvis down in the front, and therefore it goes up in the back.  

As the bone is rotating up in the back it will cause pressure on her sciatic nerve, and when that nerve is impinged one of the symptoms are calf cramps and spasms.  Pressure on the sciatic nerve will also cause hip pain, hamstring pain (and tension), and even pain/numbness all the way to her feet.  If you decide to get the book, I would also recommend that she work on the muscles of her anterior thigh (always do the hamstrings last - the book will explain why stretching the hamstrings can be detrimental), then her low back muscles, then her hip muscles, and finally, her hamstrings.  The book has pictures of each treatment and directions of how to do it.

I believe she will get relief, and if she learns how to self-treat she'll be able to maintain the relief, even if the tension creeps back into her legs.

BTW, the book comes in eBook format which will save you a LOT of money on shipping expense.

Wishing you both well,
    Julie Donnelly

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Thanks so much for your informative reply. I am seeing my mother today and I will show her the link you gave me so that she can learn all the different techniques to start self healing as you suggested.

I will also encourage her to purchase the EBook as you suggested so she has all the information at hand.

She is also set to start physiotherapy/massage too with a trained expert and hopefully all of these things together can bring her much needed relief.

Thanks again for all your help it has been invaluable.

Kind Regards,

Hi Hayden,

Wonderful!  Please wish your mom the very best from me.  I believe she's going to not only overcome this situation, but because of what she'll learn in my eBook, she'll ultimately help someone else who is in pain.

I suggest you look at the book as well, we all have some aches and pains and it's good to know how to stop them quickly and easily.

Wishing you well,

Repetitive Strain Injury

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Julie Donnelly, LMT


I can accept questions that relate to chronic or acute pain caused by muscle spasms and contractions. Repetitive Strain Injury is actually Cumulative Trauma to muscles. Releasing the spasm &/or contraction will relieve the strain that is felt at the insertion point on the bone. I am the co-developer of the unique safe-stretching program "Focused Flexibility Training," which combines easy instruction for self-treating spasms throughout your body with proven yoga stretches. I have recently authored two new books: "The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution," and "The Secret to Your Best Golf Game EVER!


Since 1989 I have been working with endurance athletes and individuals suffering from chronic pain conditions. I have authored seven self-treatment books and three self-treatment DVDs and I have developed the Julstro System for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, Trigger Finger, and other Hand/Wrist pain. I am a national and international presenter at conventions, seminars, and workshops. Principle topics are "Work Shouldn't Hurt," and "The Pain Free Athlete." In 2005 and 2006 I was the massage therapist for ultracyclists competing in the Race Across America (RAAM) 3000+ mile race from San Diego, CA to Atlantic City, NJ. I've taught the Julstro techniques to physical therapists at the Cleveland Clinic, to massage therapists in areas around the USA, and I've taught Julstro self-treatment clinics to dancers at Juilliard School of Performing Arts (NYC),the sprinting team at NC State, and I am working closely with several Olympic-hopeful. We have successfully eliminated the repetitive strain injuries that could keep them out of the Olympic Games, and the best part is they know how to do the self-treatments so they can stay pain-free and flexible.

Triathlete Magazine, Endurance Magazine, multiple national and international trade journals.

Swedish Institute of Allied Health, NY, NY - Initial education in massage therapy Licensed NYS Massage Therapist since 1989. SUNY Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, NY - B.Sc. degree in Interdisciplinary Health Education I was an Associate Professor helping to develop the massage training program for SUNY Rockland Community College

Past/Present Clients
Privacy prevents me from filling in this section without prior consent from my clients. Life Experience: I have been specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries since receiving my NY massage license in 1989. A personal bout with carpal tunnel syndrome was the catalyst to my developing a self-treatment that heals the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome quickly and without surgery. My work with endurance athletes was the inspiration to teach people how to self-treat so they could stop pains even during a race or heavy training day. Both of these situations ultimately became the products that are sold on my websites: and I currently treat people in my offices in Sarasota, FL, Cary, NC, or Pearl River, NY

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