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Why Do My Shins Hurt When Running?

Have you recently taken up running? You may find yourself grabbing for your lower leg or unable to continue. This may be due to shin splints, one of the most common injuries in runners. Any time you start a new form of exercise it is important to not do too much too soon. Even if you were once a long-distance marathon runner, if you have taken a break, you need to slowly get back into the swing of things!


What Are Shins Splints?

Shin splints occur when running on hard surfaces for long periods of time or overuse of the muscles around the shin bone. It is also found in people who have recently intensified their workouts after a period of rest. Athletes who may suffer include runners, gymnasts, dancers, and more. Often symptoms include pain in the leg, typically lower leg, sharp or dull pain in the front of the shin when weight-bearing, and pain that gets better with rest. Different anatomical factors may put you more at risk such as having flat feet, not wearing proper footwear or having a job that requires long periods of standing. 


How to Treat Shin Splints

Resting is the most important treatment for shin splints. Most of the reason shin splints occur is due to overuse, so taking time to let your body recover is crucial. The RICE method (rest, ice, compress, elevate) can be used throughout the day to speed recovery. Try this for 2 weeks, and if the pain persists after a month, it may be time to see an orthopedic doctor near you.

How to Prevent Shin Splints

We encourage all patients to go slow when trying any form of new exercise or movement they have not previously been doing. Doing too much too soon or doing something new is one of the most common reasons for injury. It takes time for your muscles and joints to get used to new activities. Inflammation and pain is a response your body gives you to something unfamiliar. 

When to See a Doctor 

If you still have pain after resting after a month, it may be time to see an orthopedic doctor. You could have caused more damage than slight inflammation to the muscles around your shin. It is better to see a doctor and get a full examination rather than letting the injury linger. Our doctors at Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics specialize in running injuries and can help get you back on track! See a full list of our providers and their specialties here.

Cassie Whittaker Cassie is the Communications Coordinator for Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics. She has been writing and reviewing medical content since 2020.

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