What Are Shin Splints?: Running and Shin Splints – Why You Have Leg Pain

As a profession we have recently been seeing more and more injuries in regards to running. “Covid shut down my gym, so I took up running.” This has been a common phrase in the last few months. But why are injuries common to new runners? Though there are many reasons why you can get pain in the front of your shin while running, the most common reason is often due to working too hard before your body gets used to the new activity. This can be increasing the number of days you run, increasing your mileage, or trying out new terrain. 

Why Does Running Cause Shin Splints?

Shin splints are a very common injury for new runners. Common questions are what is it, how did you get it and most importantly how do I get rid of it? They are pain that is experienced in the anterior portion of the leg.  Shin splints generally occur to  new runners or  runners that are running in broken down shoes. 

Shin splints can be put into three different categories. Muscle strains, stress fractures, or chronic compartment syndrome. Muscle strains generally warm up with running, they seem to go away within the first half mile of the run but will be uncomfortable again after you’re done running. Stress fracture pain is unrelenting pain during the run. Generally this pain is worse with heel strike contact and will continue through the whole run. Chronic compartment syndrome is fairly rare for runners, and is again brought on by over exertion.  

Remember you can have other injuries too. However a general rule to follow is shin splint injuries will not have numbness, tingling, or motor weakness. If you do experience these symptoms seek professional medical care. Read more about it here.

How to Get Back to Running

Treating shin splints will vary from individual to individual. With all 3 forms symptoms should subside with discontinuation of the activity. It has been suggested that after discontinuing activity you should be symptom free for 2 weeks and progress slowly back to previous intensity. Although running should be discontinued other light impact activities should be done in its place this can include swimming or riding a bike. 

Conclusion

The biggest thing I want to hammer home for you is injury prevention. Shin splints can absolutely be avoided. Running should be dosed, make sure you are ramping up your frequency, duration and intensity of the exercise gradually. If you don’t know the right way to dose your running, reach out and we can help. Make sure you have proper footwear and you’re not running in shoes that are broken down. And most importantly cross train. Runners should be focusing on strengthening exercises at least 2 days a week.  It is important for your body to be prepped for running in order to avoid injury. 

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