This article was published on April 4th, 2011
With the weather warming up, many runners are starting to get back into a regular regiment of running, or trading in their indoor treadmills for outdoor running. After a few runs you notice a sharp pain starting to become noticeable in your lower leg. A few days later you wake up in the morning and realize the pain has become even worse with just regular walking. Yikes ~ you’ve got a classic case of shin splints!
Shin splints are injuries to the lower leg, when occur when the muscles from the shin bone start to pull away from the bone. This area of micro-tearin and damage becomes very painful and inflamed.
Shin splints can be located on the inside of the lower leg (medial shin splints), or on the front of the leg (anterior shin splints). The area of discomfort usually measures 4-6 inches (10-15cm). Often there aren’t any visible signs of swelling, and pain is noticed at the beginning and often disappearing once warmed up, only to reappear later into the workout. Continuing trauma can make the pain become so extreme forcing the workout to come to an early, very painful end.
Anterior shin splints can also be caused by lack of blood supply to the muscle. This should be treated immediately by a trained physician.
Common causes of shin splints include:
- Improper foot biomechanics and over-pronation
- Sudden increase in activity – either starting too fast or too far at the beginning of seasonal training
- A change in footwear not suitable for your feet.
- Change in running surface (ie from treadmill to concrete or asphalt)
- Change in gradient / routine
- Try natural anti-inflammatories
- Take a rest period from the routine and substitute non-impact exercise to maintain cardio fitness
- Ice the area to reduce inflammation
- Check / replace footwear
- Find out if you need orthotics or insoles
- Gradually ease back into your training to reduce re-injury