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In my horror story, there's a scene where a serial killer, a man in his early 20s with an average build, is chasing down a young girl around the age of 10. The girl is supposed to escape from the serial killer in this scene.

Now realistically, an adult male should be able to easily catch up to a girl this young. In order to make the escape more believable, I wanted to give the serial killer a leg injury earlier in the story. This leg injury would prevent him from catching her easily, while still making it possible for him to capture her.

This leg injury shouldn't be severe enough where he can't properly run for long periods of time, but it should slow him down enough where a little girl could escape, even with some difficulty. He's unable to get this injury treated - both the serial killer and the girl are isolated from the outside world.

What kind of leg injury should I give this serial killer?

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    $\begingroup$ A sprain would be a first choice. Twisting a knee or an ankle without breaking anything will hurt like hell and prevent them from performing at max capacity, without actually incapacitating them. A stab wound that enters a muscle without hitting a major blood vessel would also be a hindrance. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Jun 28 '17 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ I added the [humans] tag to this question on the assumption that you are asking about standard humans. If you are not, please take the time to edit to clarify. $\endgroup$ – user Jun 28 '17 at 13:27
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Runner's Toe is an entertaining way of having someone being very tender on their feet for a few days, and then recover quickly. Maybe your assailant just stubbed their toe badly, had something fall on it, or he's trying to get into running and wore shoes a size too small, or walked downhill all day.

It looks pretty gruesome as well, so despite being maybe a bit on the harmless side, it could integrate into a horror story nicely.

Also, even a little girl stamping on someone's Terrible Toe is a great way to cause distracting levels of pain.

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I'm not sure how it could be inflicted to your serial killer, but a damaged sciatic nerve makes running (And even walking) pretty painful, so you can't do it over extended periods of time. In an emergency (And possibly under adrenaline rush), you could physically still run normally, but unless you're masochistic, you won't go for a marathon. Also, this way there is no mechanical constraint (Like there would be for a broken leg or ankle).

On a side note, this could also have a psychological impact: Having your serial killer more and more frustrated with each forced step of this neverending chase, pushing him to go for more and more desperate/irrational actions. I guess it could help build a reason for the climax of your story, maybe.

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Sprained ankle? It is very painful, but with compression and ice you can still walk.

An arterial embolism (a clot) in the leg is also survivable, but the lower leg burns as if you had a hot stone in there and the foot goes numb.

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You could give him a prosthetic leg. The fancy new robot ones let you run but they are very expensive and you must learn to use them. If he is not a man of means, an old fashioned leg (especially if it is above the knee and includes a "dumb" knee) is tricky. The drama is that the knee can bend or lock when it is not supposed to and if that happens he will fall. I am not sure how one of the smart legs would do if you could not charge it or maintain it - it might wind up even worse than a leg with a dumb knee (which is basically a hinge).

If he really takes a tumble and the leg falls off or comes loose he is done moving fast until he gets it back on. Good legs should not come loose. But if it has not been maintained (he is isolated) or is a poor fit (not originally his? he has lost a lot of weight? he put it on in a hurry?) it could be tricky.

Envisioning the scene: he is going to catch her and the leg comes loose. He curses and pulls it the rest of the way off and she loses sight of him. But then here he comes again, hopping on one leg. A thin guy in good shape with one leg and practice can hop really fast. Maybe almost as fast as a girl full of adrenaline. That will let you get more out of the scene.

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Partially torn ACL. From real life experience I can tell you day to day life is no trouble. Running is fine. As soon as I go down a slight incline while running my knee will buckle and I'm head over teakettle. A knee brace helps a lot but if your guy doesn't have one.

The ACL is easy to mess up and it often involves rotating the torso while the foot remain still.

I as going to say something about the trope of serial killers with some sort of handicap but ACL issues are so common it rather belies the trope.

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On top of what reported in other answers, seniscus or ligaments trauma could prevent any decent run and only allow for walking.

Another option could also be gout, though it's more likely in older people.

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