One of the most common running injuries is shin splints. These are caused by tired calf muscles putting too much stress on tendons which become strained or torn.
Shin splints are painful due to the excessive amounts of force on the shinbone and the tissues and muscles around it.
The excessive forces cause the muscles to swell and increase pressure against the bone leading to inflammation.
If you have the following symptoms, you probably have shin splints:
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-dull ache in the lower part of the leg
-pain that develops when you exercise
-pain on either side of the shinbone
-feeling sore or tender on the inner part of the leg
-mild swelling in the lower leg
-numbness or weakness in the feet.
IS IT OK TO RUN WITH SORE SHINS?
It’s also advisable to switch to low impact cardio exercises like swimming, walking or cycling at a low gear without standing on the pedals.
If you have to run, try to run at a very slow pace without striking the ground hard. Run for about five minutes then do stretching exercises. Do this for up to five times only if you have little or no pain.
HOW DO YOU STRENGTHEN YOUR SHINS?
You can strengthen your shins by doing stretching exercises.
The first exercises you can try are the lower leg stretching exercise with a resistance band.
To do this exercise:
-Anchor one end of the band to something immovable.
-Stretch the band and loop it around the end of your foot.
-Move your foot up and down and side to side against the band’s resistance.
If you don’t have a resistance band you can try heel raises. This is when you slowly raise your legs on the balls of your feet then slowly lower your heels to the floor. Do three sets of 20 reps twice a day.
You can also do calf stretches. To do this exercise:
-Stand with your hands against the wall or the back of a chair.
-Put one foot behind you.
-With the heel of your back foot down flat and your knee straightened, bend the front knee until you feel a stretch in the calf of your back leg. Make sure you keep your back straight.
-Hold the stretch for 30 seconds for two reps. Try to do it two or three times a day.
Toe stretches can also help you strengthen your shins. Kneel then sit on your calves with your toes turned in. Place your hands in front of you. Lean forward and raise yourself, resting on your toes. Hold the stretch for about 15 seconds.
Here are ten reasons why you shins hurt after running.
1. HIGH IMPACT ACTIVITIES
A hard surface can make your shins hurt after running. This is because they cause high impact on your legs and add strain to your shins.
Running up an incline or a rough surface can also cause your shins to hurt.
The sudden shock of repeated landings and change of directions can lead to shin splints. If you overdo it, the muscles and tendons lose their ability to adequately absorb the shock.
To reduce the risk of shin pain from this, try switching up your running route. Make sure your running shoes are fitting and aren’t worn out.
Avoid overdoing uphill and downhill running.
2. FLAT FEET
Flat feet can lead to overpronation. This happens after your heel strikes the ground. Your foot flattens then rolls inward.
Excessive inward rolling causes the tibia to twist stretching the muscles in your lower legs.
To prevent shin pain from this, buy running shoes with arch support.
3. POOR RUNNING FORM
This is another biomechanical reason why your shins hurt after running. If you run with excessive forward or backward lean, you put too much pressure on your lower legs.
Running with your toes pointed outwards can also lead to shin splints.
Get expert advice on how to recalibrate your running form to reduce risk of injury.
4. DOING TOO MUCH TOO SOON
If you’re new to running, you’re at higher risk of shin splints because you can try to do too much too soon.
If you’ve also taken a break from exercising and are suddenly back at running, you could easily injure yourself with shin splints.
This is because you’re increasing intensity and duration too quickly. The sudden impact, weight or force subjected to your muscles and tendons can make your shins hurt after running.
5. STRESS FRACTURE
A tiny crack in your shinbone called a stress fracture or a partial crack in the bone can make your legs hurt after running.
This can cause shin pain running not shin splints.
If you have a stress fracture, you can also feel shin pain when walking.
If you see any bruising, redness and swelling in a localized area, make sure you see a doctor.
6. COMPARTMENT SYNDROME
Exertional compartment syndrome is a less common cause of shin pain. It can occur in any part of the lower leg.
It’s a muscle and nerve condition usually caused by exercise. If you have ECS you will feel a tightness in your shins that worsens as you exercise. For most people, their legs are usually pain-free until exercise.
To treat ECS, doctors may recommend physical therapy, orthotic shoe inserts, anti-inflammatory medication or surgery.
7. MUSCLE STRAIN
If lower legs muscles are too weak or too short, it can lead to shin splints. As you exercise, the muscles will start to break down.
This will make your shins hurt after running.
This can be prevented by doing stretches during your warm-up.
8. POOR ANKLE MOBILITY
Your ankles are the main joints that connect you to the ground. If your ankles don’t move properly, your other joints and muscles will suffer a strain.
Poor ankle mobility affects your exercise form. You will apply too much pressure on your lower leg muscles if you have faulty ankles.
To prevent shin pain after running from poor ankle mobility, try calf lengthening stretches, and exercise your lower legs with resistance bands.
9. WEAK HIP MUSCLES
According to SSM Health, a weak gluteus medius can make your shins hurt after running. The gluteus medius is a hip muscle responsible for rotating the hip joint.
If the hip muscles become weak, it can result in a collapsed kinetic chain meaning when you’re running, your thigh rotates and pulls inward abnormally.
10. POOR TRAINING TECHNIQUES
Before exercising, it’s important to make sure you warm-up. It’s also advisable to cool down after your activity. Not doing this increases the risk of shin pain after running.
Don’t overstride while running. Don’t land heavily on your feet. Additionally, run with your arm swing low and short.
There are many simple ways to treat shin splints.
-Keep your legs lifted.
-Take over the counter anti-inflammatory painkillers.
-Use ice or cold compresses for swelling.
-Wear elastic compression bandages.
-Use foam rollers to massage your legs.
-Use orthotics or shoe inserts to help provide arch support.
If shin splints last for months, your doctor may recommend surgery.
According to Thompson Health Sports Medicine Center, shin splints account for a large percentage of injuries among dancers and runners.
Make sure you consult your doctor before resuming exercise. If you go back to exercising before you shin is fully healed, you risk permanent injury.