Can I exercise with chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS)?

Chronic exertional compartment syndrome, or CECS, is a difficult condition for runners, and many affected by it ultimately undergo surgery.

In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I answer the question of a reader who wonders about the risk of continuing to exercise with the condition.

Jerry asks:
I am officially diagnosed with compartment syndrome. I will start my first physical therapy in a few days and possibly surgery in 4 months if physical therapy won’t help. Is it ok if I keep exercising before surgery. I hate to be inactive for so long. I plan to avoid running, but I enjoy walking a lot. Is walking ok in your opinion? My muscles often felt tight after walking and a little sensitive too but not too bad. Also is swimming ok in your opinion before my surgery?

Chronic exertional compartment syndrome, or CECS, is a condition in which the muscles – usually of the leg – swell and cause the leg to become very tight within the fascia that make up the muscle compartments. Physical therapy often does not help the problem go away completely. Many people are unwilling to stop running, so they undergo surgery.

In this video, I explain whether a patient needs to stop exercising and which types of exercise might be easier than others.

Also read:
Ask Dr. Geier – What are the symptoms of chronic exertional compartment syndrome?
Ask Dr. Geier – Recovery from chronic exertional compartment syndrome

Runner with leg pain