Shin Splints – The Condition That Plagues Some Runners

If you have never heard of shin splints before, this article might interest you, particularly if you think you might want to pick up jogging as a way for you to keep fit. Of course, it is only one out of the many injuries that can potentially happen to joggers and runners. However, it affects enough people to warrant an entire blog post discussion, which is what we will be doing today.

One of the more common injuries that will plague those who are new to running would be shin splints. Oh, I should probably mention that it has a medical name, which is ‘medial tibial stress syndrome’. It presents as a sharp pain along the inner edge of the tibia, which is also known as the shin bone, and is caused by an inflammation of the tendons, muscles or bone lining.

Shin splints do not occur suddenly or momentarily. What happens is that when a person starts running, he or she is actually subjecting his or her legs to constant impact with the ground, regardless of the type of ground in question. These repeated impacts can cause micro-trauma, where some of the leg’s internal structures can become damaged.

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Most of the time, shin splints affect newcomers to the sport because of the sudden change in intensity of activity. That is precisely why new runners are encouraged to start off slowly and modestly. Other factors that can increase the chances of shin splints occurring include improper or worn-out sneakers and running on harder surfaces, such as concrete.

So how does one minimise the chance of getting shin splints? It’s actually pretty easy – progressive training. When you first start running, don’t be overzealous and unrealistic about how much you can run. Always start off small, so to speak and gradually increase the distance and speed. This does not only apply to running, but any other exercise as well. Remember – you’re in it for the long-term.

If you suspect that you’ve got shin splints, there are a few things you can do to recover. The first thing is to rest the injured area. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. As much as you want it to disappear, such things take time. Do not use this as a reason to give up running completely – just be a bit more cautious when you resume. And get proper running shoes!

Since shin splints are essentially a form of inflammation, you can put some ice to alleviate the pain and reduce the swelling. However, do not apply it directly to the skin. Instead, wrap it in a rag and place it on your leg. If you want, you can also get some anti-inflammatory medication from the pharmacy. However, be aware that some anti-inflammatory medications can cause side effects.

Another thing you have to be aware of is to ensure that you are not confusing shin splints with more serious possible injuries such as stress fractures and anterior compartment syndrome. It is true that sometimes it is difficult to tell them apart, especially since the extent of the injury can vary greatly, as can our pain threshold. Seek professional help if you suspect that something is horribly wrong.

I hope this helps, or at least has not put you off running. Have a good one!

Mark

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