By Dr. Marnie Lavigne, Sports Medicine Physician, Concussion North
Shin pain is the curse of runners everywhere and it can be incredibly frustrating when you’re committed to going the distance, and instead you can barely walk.
There are number of reasons you can experience shin pain. For runners, it can flare up if you increase your distance too quickly, if you change your running routine abruptly, don’t stretch properly or if you’re wearing worn out shoes. For non-runners, a shift from low impact to high impact exercise can lead to screaming shins.
In terms of what is causing the pain, there are a few possibilities:
Medial tibial stress syndrome, commonly referred to as shin splints, is one of the more common causes for shin pain. Shin splints are thought to be caused by a combination of muscle overuse or straining, inflammation around the bone and too much bone stress.
Compartment syndrome creates shin pain when the muscles swell and cause excess pressure in the lower leg.
Stress fractures, a condition in which the bone actually starts to have very small breaks, is also a possible cause of shin pain that cannot be missed.
So, what should you do if your shins are screaming?
The very first and most important thing to do when you experience shin pain is to reduce your running training to give your shins a rest. You can try low impact cross-training activities like swimming or biking to maintain your fitness while your shins heal. Icing the affected area to reduce inflammation is also a good early step. Introducing new stretches like tracing the alphabet with your foot while in a seated position can also help. Beyond that, you will need to book a consult with a sports medicine professional to confirm proper diagnosis and treatment.
If painful shins are affecting your distance running training, please come and see us. We’d love to help you hit the road again!