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Shin Pain: What Causes It, How to Treat It

By Paul Rothbart


When it comes to leg pain, one of the most common areas to hurt is the shins. If you're a dedicated runner, you've probably experienced shin splints. The shins are also prone to compartment syndrome and stress fractures, both of which are painful. The shin has two bones, the tibia, and the fibula. It also has many blood vessels, tendons, and sensitive nerves. Shins work hard absorbing the stress of the weight of your body coming down onto pavement when you walk, run, or jump. This makes them more prone to injury than some other parts of the body.

How Shin Pain Happens

Shin pain is common after a session of exercise, especially running. It is often mild at first and may disappear after a period of rest or warming up for exercise the next day. If the shins hurt again after that next workout, there is an injury and it must be treated before training again. When the pain recurs, it is usually worse and may not subside after rest or a warm-up. 

Shin Splints

The most common shin injury is shin splints. This happens to runners, military personnel in boot camp, or soccer players, or other athletes who run long distances while competing. Shin splints happen when the periosteum, the surface of the tibia, becomes aggravated by excess stress. The stress also affects the muscles and tendons attached to the bones. The shins can become tender to the touch and the pain may be extreme, preventing you from further activity.

Training Too Hard

Shin splints and other lower-leg injuries most often happen due to too much activity. Running more miles than you are used to, extending a training session beyond what you are capable of, or even a long night on the dance floor can stress the shins to the point of injury. Your shins work very hard even in normal activities. It's important not to push them to the point of damage.

Prevention

There are steps that can be taken to help prevent shin pain. Always stretch thoroughly and warm up before undertaking any kind of intense physical activity. Wear proper athletic footwear for the activity you are participating in. It should fit well and absorb some of the shock of steps. Never increase your mileage, intensity, or length of workouts suddenly. Gradually train harder and never train beyond your current capability. It's also important to take the time to cool down and stretch post-workout.

Managing Pain

When your shins hurt, stop all activity and rest. Inflammation is common and this should be treated by icing the affected area for 10 minutes at a time as often as necessary. Do this right after completing a workout. For severe pain or pain that lasts, see a doctor as soon as possible.

Pain caused by exercise and activity happens and the shins seem to take the brunt of the stress. Know the symptoms and causes of shin pain. Take steps to prevent them and how to treat pain. Get professional help if needed.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in New Braunfels, Tex.

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