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I started running around my neighborhood, on sidewalks or streets, a few weeks ago. Recently, I took a new route on the bike trail (asphalt?).

After a five-minute warm-up of walking, I started a slow jog when I started getting pain in my right leg. The pain was mild and located in the middle of my shin and on the outside of the bone.

I stopped jogging and immediately started stretching. This stretch felt sooo good!

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Are these signs of shin splints? If so how can I safely train with this condition, aka prevention and treatment?

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1  
Full disclosure on my part, my doctor confirmed that I do indeed have fleet feet. However, I wanted to phrase this question to be generic enough for anyone to find an answer :) –  Tony R May 10 '11 at 17:59
    
I was diagnosed with flat feet when in high school. I wore orthodics for while, but stopped and it didn't slow me down athletically (I ran track, played lots of sports, etc.). Recently (20 years later) I developed plantar fasciitis though and the flat feet were a big part of the cause. I got new orthotics and they've healed nicely now. Anyway, just wanted to warn you of something else to watch out for. –  Aardvark May 10 '11 at 18:16
    
Thanks for the info. Your advice coincides with exactly with what my doctor warned me about: running with flat feet could lead to more painful injuries/conditions and the daily use of orthotics. My current goal is to compete in a 5K and then return to alternative forms of cardio as my "staple". –  Tony R May 16 '11 at 15:54

3 Answers 3

Definitely could be shin splints. Here are 4 ways to alleviate shin splints.

1) Do the alphabet with your feet. Sit down and pretend your foot was a marker. Make a capital "A". Make a capital "B". etc. Do with right leg and then the left.

2) Take off your socks and stand over a bathroom towel. Use your toes to scrunch up the towel as though you were trying to pick it up. Do 20 reps per foot.

3) Do calf raises -> stand up and from a flat foot position, raise onto your toes. Pause for 1 second, come back down to flat footed. Do 15 reps with equal weight on each foot.

4) Do heel raises -> stand on a step and hang your heel off the edge. Let your heels dip below your toes. Pause for 1 seconds and then raise back up so your feet are horizontal. do 15 reps with equal weight on each foot.

Do these every other day. Start with 1 set of each and increase until you get to 3 sets. Once the pain goes away (maybe 3 weeks), you can reduce to 1 set every other day. Best of luck and good running.

EDIT: Here is an article with more detail and 3 more ways to Cure Shin Splints from Running

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It sounds like it could be shin splints. Usually you'll experience the pain right in the front of the leg or sometimes on the sides of the shinbone. It's also usually a dull pain.

Technically, shin splints can be caused by several different factors. I've experienced them as a result of over training. In that case, stretching and physical therapy worked after a couple of weeks. "Physical therapy" here was really just an exercise to increase the strength of the muscles so that they can keep up with the rest of your leg muscles. I would lay a towel out on the floor in front of me and put the toes of my feet on the edge of it. Then I would pull the towel in towards me by curling my toes. One time each night was plenty.

Since you've noticed them after running on a hard surface it's more likely to be caused (in your case) by small stress fractures in the bone or as a result of over stretching the muscles (especially if you have flat feet). Icing should help there (20 minutes every 4 hours or so?) and an anti-inflammatory pain killer might as well. Stretching is of course helpful here if it's the second cause.

Healing can take months and you need to make sure that you're not simply reinjuring them over and over again, so you should try to avoid exercise which puts stress on them until they are fully healed.

I am NOT a doctor. Ideally, you should consult your physician, especially if the pain persists or is severe.

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As someone who has repeatedly had shin slints on and off for years, I wouldn't worry so much.

It sounds like the change of surface has caused you to subtly change your gait (such as a change in the degree of pronation (or inward foot-roll.)) The exact same thing has happened to me - I always ran on pavements / roads but one run on a gravel path and I'll be aching all over and specifically, have the same ache in the outside of my lower leg.

Shin splints (AKA medial tibial stress syndrome) is an inflamation of the tendons where the big muscle in the front of your leg (lift your toes towards your knee to feel which one I mean) joins to the bone. Some people incorrectly use 'shin splints' as an all-encompasing term for lower-leg pains.

If you only ran on this new surface once and felt discomfort, it's likely not shin splints, which in my experience takes time to develop. Likewise, if the feeling is more of a tightness than a specific area of pain, I would'nt worry yet. A new surface will take time to adjust to - just phase it in a little at a time.

Shin splints is more likely to occur on the inside of the shin bone, just above the ankle.

Some criteria for identifying shin splints are:

  • If the area is tender when you press on it.
  • If the pain occurs at the start of a run while your muscles are cold, but reduces as you warm up
  • If it's a 'bone pain' rather than a 'muscle pain'

As for a cure - this is much more difficult because its hard to identify what the exact cause is. Some people will recommend stretches or exercises for your lower leg muscles but the cause could also be weak hips (it was for me), or simply poor running form. You are far better off seeing a physio if you're sure its shin splints than wasting time self-diagnosing. They'll get you on a treadmill and look at how you run to see what the cause is.

To treat the symptoms an ice pack for 20 minutes will work wonders.

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