CLINIC: Running After Brain Stem Stroke

Wed, 22 Aug. 2012 - 7:40 p.m. MT
Credit: ARA Staff - American Running Association

QUESTION:
I had a stroke several years ago and though I was very fit before it, about 45 minutes into my runs now, I experience cramping in my foot and lose control of both the ankle and foot. I do have some involuntary muscle problems, like balance issues, but generally not muscle control issues. Any ideas on how I could prevent or reduce this occurrence? I am 44 years old and do not want to give up running. 
 
George Franks
Cleveland, OH
 
ANSWER:
Muscle spasticity during exercise is not uncommon in your situation, and may represent blood flow problems triggered by the running. Most neurologists would probably caution you about running, which is vigorous exercise, but as a runner I appreciate your addiction. Before asking you to abandon the exercise, I advise you to take a treadmill stress test—not to evaluate your heart, but your blood pressure, during running. If it is aberrant, taking an appropriate medication might spare you complications and be helpful to alleviate your symptoms.
 
Ron Lawrence, MD
Santa Barbara, CA

(RUNNING & FITNEWS® March / April 2010 • Volume 28, Number 2)

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