Marathon runners' legs (Getty)Marathon runners' legs (Getty) © Copyright

Shin splints sorted

If you’ve spent time pounding the roads running the chances are that you may well have experienced the irritating pain of shin splints. Here’s what you can do about them.

What are they?
Shin splints are a dull ache in the shin caused by strenuously stopping and starting, or running on hard surfaces. The painful area is usually along the tibia, that’s the large bone running down the inside of your lower leg.
The normal cause is Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS), which is the term for describing increased pressure on your legs. This causes the tissue covering your bone (called periosteum) to become inflamed. It can be caused by running up or down hills; running with poor technique such as rolling your foot slightly as it hits the ground; or if you suddenly start running lots, having not run before. First-time marathoners, beware.

What should I do?
Stop running immediately. There is no way of running off this injury, so just walk home, put an ice pack on the area that hurts, and swallow some painkillers (ibuprofen or paracetamol should do the trick). Replace your running with a low impact exercise, like swimming.

Total footwear solutions
If you’re determined to start running again then visit a specialist shop. They’ll get you on a treadmill, have a look at your running style and recommend suitable trainers or inserts which will help correct your technique, and should reduce the pain.

Getting back on it
Depending on the severity, you’ll want to cut out running completely for a while. But once you resume, it’s important to remember to build up your workload gradually. Begin with short runs on flat surfaces and increase the distance and frequency of your runs gradually over time.

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