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Disarming Shin Splints: Allowing Runners to Run

Running is a common form of exercise, it is a sport on its own and present in other sports. Soreness throughout your legs can be common when running, but when that ache becomes sharp pain, it can be a cause for concern. This sharp pain can occur in new runners who may have increased their running intensity or distance in a manner that they cannot handle at the moment. This can also occur in those who are experienced, changing up their routine in order to get to another level. This pain is present along their lower leg typically along the bone and can be described by doctors as medial tibial stress syndrome or “shin splints”.

What occurs in a runners legs as this discomfort is occurring is inflammation. This inflammation is due to irritation of the top layer of the tibial bone, the periosteum. This occurs because of repetitive stress placed through a runners lower legs, due to improper footwear, running hills, and poor running technique. If a runner allows the proper amount of time to pass between runs to heal, the bone will become stronger, allowing them to take on the repetitive stress that originally caused this discomfort.

While shin splints can typically go away with rest, and ice, if runners are not careful they can continue to experience this stabbing pain even at rest. Their legs can be tender to palpation and develop tendinitis (irritation of tendon). If a runner continues to run he or she is putting themselves at risk of developing a stress fracture, which will take a longer period of time to recover from in order to feel better and resume running without pain. A compartment syndrome may also arise if a runner continues to try and run through their pain, which may require surgical intervention in order to relieve pressure that presents itself causing more pain.

How to treat and prevent shin splints from occurring can be straight forward, starting with rest and even ice if pain levels are too high. One way to treat and prevent shin splints can be correcting ones running technique and even wearing the proper footwear. Another way to prevent shin splints, is to follow a running program focused on incrementally increasing intensity. These programs will also focus on changing training variables such as speed and distances as well as suggest hills or flat surfaces. A good training program will help avoid a runner avoid overuse injuries. How one recovers can also be used to prevent shin splints, stretching can be used in this instance to help improve tissue extensibility decreasing the likelihood of restriction to musculature that affects multiple joints.

While running may seem like a simple form of exercise, a lot can differ from person to person. Arm swing, how your foot strikes the ground, stride length, and knee bend. Shoe preferences differ from person to person which can help a runner or impede further gains. How one treats recovery also differs, yet can have the same benefits. All of these variables can allow someone to prevent and treat shin splints, improve their time or increase their cardio for other sports requiring running.

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