What A Pain In The Leg! Common Shin Injuries In Runners

As a runner, your shins are under a lot more strain than those of the average person. It's not abnormal, then, for runners to develop shin pain from time to time. Sometimes this shin pain is due to a minor issue that will resolve on its own with a few days' rest, and other times, it is due to a more serious ailment that demands treatment from a sports medicine doctor. How do you know the difference? Well, you can start by reviewing the two common shin injuries listed below.

Shin splints

Shin splints (also know as medial tibial stress syndrome) are pain along the inside of the shins. The pain is due to a straining of the muscles and tendons in this area. Shin splints are very common in new runners whose tissues are not yet adapted to the stress of running. More experienced runners may develop shin splints if they ramp up their mileage too quickly or if they start running on hard surfaces after running on softer grass or an all-weather track for a long time. 

Shin splints usually only cause pain when you're running. They generally clear up on their own if you take a few days off, ice your shins, and then return to running slowly. Running in shoes with more padding or sticking to softer surfaces can help too. If your shin splints don't clear up within two weeks, see a sports medicine doctor. They may recommend therapies such as massage or stretching.

Tibial stress fracture

A stress fracture is a crack in the bone that occurs due to repeated trauma. Stress fractures are most common in more experienced runners who are tackling high mileage or logging a lot of very demanding workouts. They're more common in females than in males. Stress fractures are very painful when you press on the part of the shin that is fractured, and the pain lingers even when you're not running.

If you suspect you have a stress fracture, you should definitely see a sports medicine doctor for treatment. You won't typically need to wear a cast, but you will need to take time off from running and perhaps complete some physical therapy exercises to strengthen your calves and prevent re-injury when you return to running. 

Now that you know a little more about common shin injuries in runners, you'll have a better idea of what to do if you develop shin pain yourself. When in doubt, take time off, ice your shins, and call the doctor.