Thursday, March 15, 2007

Guess What I Got?


Shin splints are very common to new runners. It will feel like a dull to sharp pain along your shin or front bone of your calf.

Anterolateral shin splints affect the muscles in the front (anterior) and outside (lateral) parts of the shin. The shin muscles pull the foot up, and the larger and much stronger calf muscles pull the foot down each time the heel touches the ground during walking or running. The calf muscles exert so much force that they can injure the shin muscles.

The main symptom of anterolateral shin splints is pain along the front and outside of the shin. At first, the pain is felt only immediately after the heel strikes the ground during running, walking, skiing, or other similar exercises. If the person continues to run, the pain occurs throughout each step, eventually becoming constant. Usually by the time the person sees a doctor, the shin hurts when touched.

Posteromedial shin splints affect the muscles in the back (posterior) and inner (medial) parts of the shin, which are responsible for lifting the heel just before the toes push off. This type of shin splint often results from running on banked tracks or crowned roads and can be worsened by rolling onto the outside of the feet (pronation) excessively or by wearing running shoes that do not adequately prevent such rolling.

The pain produced by this type of shin splint usually starts along the inside of the lower leg, about 1 to 8 inches above the ankle, and worsens when a runner rises up on the toes or rolls the ankle in. If the person continues to run, the pain moves forward, affecting the inner aspect of the ankle, and may extend up the shin to within 2 to 4 inches of the knee. The severity of the pain increases as the shin splint progresses. At first, only the muscle tendons are inflamed and painful, but if the person keeps running, the muscles themselves can be affected. Eventually, tension on the inflamed tendon can actually pull it from its attachment to bone, causing bleeding and further inflammation.

The primary treatment is to stop running and do other types of exercise until running is no longer painful. Running shoes with a rigid heel counter (the back part of the shoe) and special arch supports can keep the foot from rolling onto the outside excessively. Avoiding running on banked surfaces can help prevent shin splints from recurring. Exercises to strengthen the injured muscles are useful.

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