Runners Pain Dictionary – Part 5
SHIN SPLINTS – This is a condition characterized by pain in the shin or lower leg. The pain is felt along the lower portion of the Tibia (which is the inner, larger of the two bones lying between the knee and ankle) referred to as the Shinbone in normal parlance.
The shin throbs or aches after your run or sprint. Though it can affect all, it is most common and prevalent among runners and aerobic dancers.
Common causes include overuse of muscles and resultant overloading of the Tibia. When the muscles are weak (and inflamed or swollen) the stress transfers to the Tibia, which may not ready to handle this repeated force. Weakness in the core and hip stabilizer muscles, tightness in the lower leg muscles and stress fractures (tiny fractures) in the lower leg can lead to this condition. One of the biggest causes of Shin Splints is over pronation (inward roll) of feet, causing the arch to collapse, leading to greater muscle fatigue and their inability to absorb ground reaction forces, thereby transferring these to the bone (Tibia).
Sudden increase in running intensity, change of surface (especially from soft to asphalt), running uneven terrains, improper or worn out running shoes can all be culprits. Hard heel strike and over reaching in Gait can precipitate this condition too.
Staying off activity, pain management, wearing leg sleeves, orthotics for shoes (if warranted) and therapy to address healing could form part of recovery in various combinations. Again, this is a sticky situation requiring patience to heal. Pushing through it despite advice to the contrary may just serve to shorten your running life or make going back to it longer and leave you with greater damage. Swimming and cycling could be good alternates to keep up with endurance while waiting for Shin splints to heal and resume pain free running.