When You Run With Shin Splints, This Is What Happens

If your New Year's resolution was to start running, you may want to pay close attention to your shins. One of the most painful but common injuries a runner can experience feels like a sharp jab to the front of your leg every time your foot hits the ground. Toughing it out may seem like the right thing to do, in order to stick to your goals, but listening to your body could prevent a more serious injury.

A shin splint is simply pain along the front of your lower leg. The pain itself originates from the tearing of ligaments that attach the periosteum, or muscle covering, to your bone (via LIVESTRONG). The high-impact nature of running leads to these small tears, which over time either get bigger or heal over with scar tissue.

Shin splints can be treated by using the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, elevation (via Healthline). It's possible that you might be able to do some low-impact workouts while you're healing, but continuing to aggravate your shin splints could cause them to become more painful, and may even lead to stress fractures in your tibia (via Mayo Clinic).

Stop shin splints before they start

You may be at a higher risk for shin splints if you're just starting as a runner, you suddenly increase your level of exercise, or if your feet have especially high or low arches. Once you've had shin splints, you're more likely to get re-injured because of the weakness of the scar tissue that formed previously. Think of it like fixing something with duct tape; it may hold for awhile, but eventually the duct tape will fail. Repeated impact on scar tissue will just cause it to tear again.

Luckily you can help prevent this nagging injury. Getting your gait analyzed by a professional is one way to guarantee your technique isn't causing your shin splints. By gradually working your way into high-impact activities like running, choosing shoes that are supportive, and doing strengthening exercises to help your legs support you without undue stress, your shins will stay healthy and pain-free.