Sore Shins After a Long Break

After taking a break from running, runners can find they’re greeted with shin splints, particularly if you’ve taken off an extended amount of time and put on weight.

Shin splints is a “waste basket” term for lower leg pain that does not specify the actual reason for the pain that you are experiencing. The short list of causes for such pain include: stress fracture, medial tibial stress syndrome, posterior tibialis muscle strain, peroneal muscle strain, exertional compartment syndrome, and popliteal artery entrapment syndrome.

The combination of strength loss and weight gain puts added stress on your lower legs. The soft tissues and bones may not be conditioned to handle the extra stress and strain. The loss of strength may alter the kinetic chain mechanics and change the forces on your lower leg tissues. Trying to alter your foot strike to a forefoot or midfoot landing will transfer the forces to different muscle groups and shift the pain.

If this is the case you probably need to back off your running and let the tissues heal. As long as it doesn’t hurt, walk, cycle, use the elliptical, and spend time building your core strength – these activities will all help you shed the weight and gain fitness. When you do resume running, start slowly and alternate running and walking a block or so at a time until you can do so comfortably for 30 to 40 minutes. After that, gradually make the run segments longer until you’re able to run continuously.

As always, it would be best to see someone who can make a more specific diagnosis and set up an individualised treatment plan.


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