I currently have a pain down the front of one of my legs around the ankle/shin area. I believe this is due to frequent high-intensity running on a treadmill.

I would like to continue an equivalent intensity exercise in the gym which puts no pressure on that area. I've been recommended swimming multiple times. However, I do not know how to swim. I've also heard that a cross-fit machine would be a good option, but am not 100% sure that it will put no pressure on that area.

Any suggestions at all would be greatly appreciated.

2 Answers 2


Shin pain after running

The pain you experience is likely medial tibial stress syndrome. Here is an excerpt from a study on treatment options of MTSS.

[...] However most studies support rest, ice, and analgesics in the acute phase. Many experts also recommend modifying the training routine, stretching, and strengthening the lower extremity, wearing appropriate footwear, using orthotics and manual therapy to correct biomechanical abnormalities, and gradually return to activity. ESWT, injections, and acupuncture are commonly used for other lower extremity tendinopathies with some success, but little current objective evidence exists for their role in MTSS.


In other words, the "usual treatment" of ice-packs and rest, escalating to a trip to the doctor's office if you feel the pain is too overwhelming. And if you're not already doing it, make sure to warm-up properly before, and stretch after, your exercise.

Regarding swimming

I strongly recommend learning to swim. As an exercise, it trains you, both in terms of strength, and cardiovascular endurance, with negligible wear and tear on joints, bones, and other tissue.

It's a miracle exercise, whether you're dealing with injuries or are completely fine. Depending on where you live, I'm sure there are classes you can take. I've known several people who have had to learn it in an adult age, some for exercise, some for peace of mind, and some because they got a job on a boat.

  • +1 - Alec - Thank you for not saying "shin splints" lol. Andrew sounds like a class case of MTSS. There are other things to rule out -- I'd review this: aafp.org/afp/2011/0101/p39.html. Assuming it's just MTSS --- a cross fit machine won't apply the same weight bearing (WB) forces that running does. However once you recover.... Running and WB is a great thing just sounds like you're doing too much too soon.
    – Mike-DHSc
    Sep 26, 2017 at 5:01

I'm a bit biased, but, I tell anyone with a similar question to give rowing a try. Using a good quality indoor rower can provide a great workout. There's a small learning curve to using the machine, but, once you've got the motion down, you can easily control the intensity and duration of the workout.

As for any usage contraindication, you'll need to be able to move your shins to a vertical position. If that position puts too much strain on your ankle/shin, you can shorten the stroke and still get a decent workout.

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