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Common Running Injuries: Shin Splints
Shin Splints is the collective name given to pain or injury caused by exercise, that occurs in the lower limb, in particular around the shin bone. It is hard to miss the dull ache that goes down the shin bone (Tibia) on impact, although to begin with it is manageable and possible to carry on running but as time goes on it will become more unbearable and even feel sore to touch.
What causes Shin Splints?
It is a common injury with new runners that are eager to progress and increase their training too much, too soon. Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) is the result of frequent or/and intense exercise when your body is not used to it. It places a lot of stress and pressure on your legs, especially on hard surfaces, and the result is the connective tissue that covers the surface of the shin bone (periosteum) becoming inflamed. A strong indication that you have Shin Splints is when the pain can be felt in both shins, although this is not always the case. Wearing old and worn running shoes can also be the cause as they don't offer the support that they did a few hundred miles ago.
How to Treat
Rest is obviously a huge factor in treating Shin Splints but if you choose to carry on exercising then concentrate on non-impact activities such as cycling or swimming until the pain disappears. You should also have your shoes checked out to be sure they offer the support you need or consider buying new ones. Ice regularly to help reduce the inflammation. It should take approximately two weeks to recover, if the pain is still there after that time then it may be a good idea to consult your doctor. If the pain is only mild and you choose to exercise through it, or when you return after resting, then still get your shoes checked but also only run on softer ground like fields and steer clear of hills. It is also vital that you do plenty of calf stretches to strengthen the lower leg.
How to Avoid
Always wear shoes that give the right amount of support and vary the surfaces that you run on and avoid hard surfaces as much as possible. Build up your distance slowly, don't increase more than 10% a week and improve your general strength and flexibility. If problems continue then it would be wise to consult a Podiatrist as you may require a little extra support from Orthotics.