My Shins Hurt After I Run

Is the warmer weather drawing you outdoors, reigniting your passion for running? Is your enthusiasm being dampened by the throbbing pain in your lower legs post-run, casting doubt on that planned outing to the botanical garden with friends?

Could this be shin splints? They’re a familiar foe, especially for athletes and fitness buffs. But fear not, with proper care and attention, they’re manageable and preventable. Let’s dive into what shin splints entail, what triggers them, how to tend to them, and crucially, how to sidestep them altogether.

What Are Shin Splints?

First things first, let’s define shin splints. It’s a broad term encompassing various pains in and around the shin, the front part of your leg bone below the knee, technically known as the tibia. There are two main types: medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), causing pain along the lower two-thirds of the inside of the shin, and anterior tibial stress syndrome (ATSS), with pain along the front outside of the shinbone. Most often, when folks talk about shin splints, they’re referring to MTSS.

These discomforts often kick-off as a throbbing ache accompanied by tightness, tenderness, soreness, and mild swelling on the inner edge of your shin. Initially, you might only experience pain at the outset of physical activity, which gradually subsides as you warm up. This early warning sign indicates an injury, signaling the need to address it promptly.

What Triggers Shin Splints?

Now, onto the triggers. Shin splints often rear their heads when you push your body without adequate support or conditioning for the activity at hand. Here’s what could be setting off those alarms:

  • Abrupt changes in your exercise routine
  • Amped-up intensity, duration, or repetition of an activity
  • Ill-fitting footwear
  • Activities with frequent stops and starts, like dancing or basketball
  • Skipping warm-ups or cool-downs
  • Low bone density, especially common among women
  • Inadequate stretching
  • Poor leg/foot/ankle alignment

Runners face additional considerations that could spark shin splints, such as tackling hills as a novice, excessive inward rolling of the ankle upon impact, pounding the pavement on hard or uneven surfaces, or sporting worn-out shoes lacking shock-absorbing prowess.

What To Look Out For

Recognizing shin splints early is crucial. Look out for swelling, tenderness, and aching pain along the lower front of your shin, particularly during and after exercise. If shin splints strike, rest up, apply ice packs to reduce inflammation, and consider over-the-counter anti-inflammatory meds for pain relief. Shift to non-weight-bearing exercises like swimming or biking while you recuperate.

Test Your Recovery Readiness

Once you’re on the mend, it’s time to gauge your body’s readiness to resume activity. If you can walk pain-free, execute tip-toe movements sans discomfort, and perform single-leg hops without pain, you’re likely primed to gradually ease back into your routine. For runners, start with a slow reintroduction, mixing walking and running to rebuild gradually.

Prevent Future Discomfort

Prevention reigns supreme. Take care of your feet with well-fitting shoes and consider orthotics for optimal alignment. Strengthen your leg, foot, ankle, hip, and core muscles through targeted exercises. Pay heed to any signs of discomfort, tweaking your activities accordingly. And if persistent or severe shin pain persists, don’t hesitate to seek professional medical guidance for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

By grasping the causes, symptoms, and preventive measures, you can sidestep the agony of shin splints and continue relishing your favorite activities pain-free. Remember, prioritize your health, listen to your body, and take the necessary steps to keep those shins happy and healthy!

Visit one of our AFC locations near you for prompt and compassionate care if you are dealing with persistent shin splints.