If you experience shin pain with running, then the likely cause is a condition known as shin splints. This is essentially the medical term for pain in the shins which is brought about by repetitive motions such as running. This can cause great distress and hinder your workout regime, knocking you off track and preventing you from reaching your fitness and health goals. Learn all that you need to know in regards to shin pain during or after running, including how it can be treated, and prevented.
Why Do I Get Shin Pain While Running?
As mentioned, shin splints is often a broad term used to describe pain along the tibia or shin bone. This condition is often seen in military recruits, dancers and runners.
Whilst shin splints (and shin pain) is common in novice runners (often due to poor form, running too far to begin with, or running in wrong/old trainers), experienced runners can also experience the condition as a result of over training. This is because when an individual runs, the shin bone (tibia) slightly bends in response to the impact of the foot hitting the floor. This causes slight damage to the bone, which will repair and get stronger during periods of rest. Training too hard without sufficient rest, however, can cause too much damage, resulting in shin pain. Running on uneven ground or surfaces that are hard (such as concrete) can also be a contributing factor to the development of medial tibial stress syndrome, which is the major causes of shin splints.
What to do:
As medial tibial stress syndrome affects the bone, if it is not treated then it can result in a stress fracture. The chances of this are exacerbated if you choose to run through the pain. The best thing to do when experiencing shin pain while running is to stop running and try to resolve the issue. It is always advisable to seek the help of a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment methods, having said that, below are some suggestions on what you can do to combat your shin pain and get back to your regular running schedule.
How to Treat Shin Pain
As mentioned, the first thing you should do is stop running. Take a few days off and allow your bones and muscles adequate time to rest and recover. You do not have to refrain from all exercise, and can replace running with swimming or cycling during this time. You may also benefit from anti-inflammatory medication. Whilst applying ice to your shins can help with recovery, there is little scientific evidence to suggest that this process will have any benefit in regards to healing shin splints, though it can help to reduce the sensation of pain experienced. It may also be wise to wear a supportive sleeve over your leg for extra support and warmth.
Visiting a physiotherapist
The best way to treat shin splints is by visiting a physiotherapist. They will be able to work with you in identifying exactly why you are experiencing shin pain while running, as well as provide you with exercises that will help to ease the level of pain you are experiencing. If you do seek medical help, then you may also undergo an x-ray on your shin bone, and in the case of a stress fracture, surgery could be required.
Once you no longer experience pain in the shin area, then your condition has likely healed. You may wish to confirm this with a follow-up x-ray. Remember when retiring to running, start with a low mileage run and work your way back up to the longer distances you were doing prior to your injury.
How to Prevent Shin Pain
The best way to treat anything is to take steps to prevent it from ever occurring. Thankfully, there are simple steps that you can take to decrease the likelihood of experiencing shin splints. These are:
Don't begin by running 20 miles. Start with small achievable mileage and build your way up to longer distances.
Practice Proper Form
Doing actions like taking long strides whilst running can increase the likelihood of experiencing shin pain, so running with correct form is important if you wish to avoid this occurrence.
Wear the Right Trainers
Wearing correct running shoes that are tailored to the size and shape of your feet is extremely important if you wish to avoid injury whilst running.
Pick A Suitable Surface
Try to run on a surface that is soft and even whenever possible.
Strengthen Your Muscles
The hips, calf and core muscles help to support and stabilize your shins whilst you are running, therefore, carrying out exercises that work and strengthen these muscles will help to prevent the occurrence of shin pain while running. This is also a good way to rehabilitate if you have suffered a shin injury whilst running.