Shin Splints or Stress Fracture... :(

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 25, 2009 6:54 PM GMT
    Alright.
    So I know there's been numerous threads on this already, but I am hoping that people have found better and faster recovery techiniques for shin splints, as well as stretches and other techniques to help strengthen the muscle.

    I'm an avid runner. I started running my freshman year of high school and I did xc and track and field all four years. I also did numerous other sports like wrestling, swimming, crew and soccer, which all involved a lot of running, and a lot of development of the leg muscles. I was always able to run a 5K six days a week with no problem and was able to run even longer distances without any complaints or injuries.
    My senior year of high school I decided to try something new and did hurdles which made me realize that sprinting wasn't really for me. A couple of weeks into the season I started getting shin splints and had to stop running because it was getting really bad.
    I didnt run for a year after going to college and now I've been trying to get back into it hoping to start running some competitions and start training for a marathon. The problem is that in the past couple of months I have started running about three times. Every time I have had to stop because of shin splints. (More specifically Medial Shin Splint which occurs on the inside of your leg.) But I only have the pain on my left leg. My right leg is fine and doesn't hurt at all.
    The only thing is that I can't figure out what the problem is. I definitely stretch properly before and after each run. I have a good running form. I have a forefoot strike. Shoes are pretty new. The only thing that I can think of is that I have a flat feet, but its never been a problem before so why would it be a problem now?
    If anyone can please give me any more info or think of what my problem could be, please let me know! I'd really appreciate it.
    I have a 10K run coming up in about a month and I really dont want to have to deal with then.
    Thanks!
    (FYI, I've been running 4 days a week. Running 2 miles first day, 4 mi on second and third day and 6 mi on the fourth day. Maybe I am overtraining since I'm just getting back into it? I guess I can say I can't accept the fact that I have to start out slow because I havent ran in a year and I think I can just start running long distances again. But I really dont think 16 miles a week is much since I usd to run a lot more than that.)
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Sep 25, 2009 7:36 PM GMT
    As a quick thought: your shoes may be new, but are they the right kind for your feet and stride?

    I'm not a terribly good runner, nor do I run as often as I feel I should. But after hearing the advice to go to a specialty running store often enough, I finally went to one in my area and asked for help. The staff looked at my feet, looked at my stride while walking in just my socks, and even had me run briefly on a treadmill in the store. Then they recommended a particular style of running shoe, for which they had several models in a number of different brands, and they even explained why that style of running shoe was the best choice for my feet and stride. And the results have been amazing; I no longer have to worry about cramping up the day after a run.

    $90 for a pair of shoes that cause no pain in my feet and legs is such a better investment than $30 for a pair of general all-purpose athletic shoes that don't really meet my running needs. And I never would have known it was the shoes if I hadn't gone to a specialty running store and been analyzed.

    For any who care, I go to Playmakers, a regionally-recognized running store here in Michigan. Apparently, my high rigid arches and tendency to walk on the outside of my feet are dead giveaways that I need a neutral running shoe. Asics for the win. I may still buy non-running shoes at Payless, but I'm sticking to a running store for my running shoes.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 25, 2009 8:06 PM GMT
    My first thought was your shoes also. I'm flat footed too, and I have a natural tendency to run on the insides of my feet when I land (if that makes sense, I'm sure other runners will get it). I have to have a wide firm sole to make sure I strike my feet on the ground in the right form (I have the Livestrong Nike Air Pegasus 26+, and I love them).

    My second thought is the surface you're running on, so perhaps the surface you are running on is too jarring. It seems like your previous running was done on either a track or grass. Are you now running on sidewalks, roads, or a treadmill?

    You might want to stick to a track, flat trails, and/or a low impact treadmill (believe me some treadmills are worlds apart to run on).
  • jrs1

    Posts: 4388

    Sep 25, 2009 10:50 PM GMT

    I get them when I run as well. I'm only going to add the obvious:
    - pay attention to the surfaces on which you're running.
    - save up and purchase the orthopedically sound running shoe.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 25, 2009 10:56 PM GMT
    Yeah. I'm definitely gonna have to check one of those specialty running stores and have them check out my stride and see what kind of shoe they recommend for me cuz that might really help.

    Ganymede0 - As for running surfaces, I've been running on a treadmill cuz I have school and work and I usually dont get home till 8pm so I just go to my gym and run there. But I'm starting to realize that maybe running long distances on a treadmill isnt really good for your legs. I used to run on trails in the woods during all 4 years in high school cuz the treeline around our school was around a 5K so maybe it's the change of running surface?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 26, 2009 2:42 AM GMT
    Could very well be the treadmill. The old hand-me-down treadmill I used to have was pretty hard to run on.

    Does your gym have more than one kind of treadmill? My Gold's has nicer ones in the Cardio Cinema room than on the main floor area. If your gym does have different makes of treadmills, I would suggest changing 'em up (that is if you have been only running on one) to see if it makes any noticeable difference to you.

    Good luck, and I hope it works out for you!
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    Sep 26, 2009 2:56 AM GMT
    one can still run with shin splints but you have to be careful. obviously.
    I got them years ago and it plagued me for a full year.
    First really rub them up and down vigorously before starting to run , all along
    the bone and muscle.
    Then start really slowly , gradually increasing tempo as you feel you're warming up and things are loosening up.
    Minimize ground impact, the less noise you hear, the better.
    Smooth motions baby.
    Medium strides ( shouldn't see your feet while you run ).
    Aim at being light as a feather. ( j/k)
    And of course never ever land on the tip of your foot.
    And some ibuprofen when you get back can help.
    Massages to the lower legs also.
    Anything to bring down inflammation in fact.

    Anyway, that was me recipe and it worked for me.
    Still took months to go.
    And i did take a break during Summer which certainly helped too.
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    Sep 26, 2009 4:17 AM GMT
    Is the pain in the muscle or on the bone? In high school, I mistook a stress fracture for shin splints. You really don't want to run on a stress fracture...at all. I'd consider seeing a doctor so he can rule out any fractures or other degenerative problems. What's your footstrike like? Do you run pretty light on your feet or can people hear you coming.

    Some exercises that I think would be good.

    1) Eccentric heel drops (which are usually done moreso for achilles tendonitis) will hit that area to some extent. Google it for an explanation.

    2. After a warm up walk on your heels and then on your toes. I usually do about 3 sets of each at about 30 sec per set.

    You can also try rolling your calves on a foam roller, that could help with the tightness.

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    Sep 26, 2009 4:44 AM GMT
    Runninchlt saidIs the pain in the muscle or on the bone? In high school, I mistook a stress fracture for shin splints. You really don't want to run on a stress fracture...at all. I'd consider seeing a doctor so he can rule out any fractures or other degenerative problems. What's your footstrike like? Do you run pretty light on your feet or can people hear you coming.

    Some exercises that I think would be good.

    1) Eccentric heel drops (which are usually done moreso for achilles tendonitis) will hit that area to some extent. Google it for an explanation.

    2. After a warm up walk on your heels and then on your toes. I usually do about 3 sets of each at about 30 sec per set.

    You can also try rolling your calves on a foam roller, that could help with the tightness.



    Hmmmmmmmm... Now that really makes me think.
    To tell you the truth I really dont know. The pain that I am getting is on the inside of my left leg. It usually starts out on the side, I wanna say 6 inches above my ankle and like yesterday when I was running the pain had traveled to the front of my leg, but it subsided back to where it starts. It pretty much feels like all bone where the pain is. I don't feel any muscle unless I move the pressure a bit to the back of my leg and i dont feel any pain there.
    I have a forefoot strike, and its not really light. Lol I definitely make a lot of noise when I am running on a tradmill. Lol

    m2_s14_leg_anatomy.jpg

    Anyway by looking at that pic, it pretty much looks like the pain is my tibia.... Ugh!
    What would that mean?!?! How serious could it get?
    I already made an appointment with a physical therapist for next week so I can't wait to go get checked out and hope its nothing serious.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 26, 2009 11:50 PM GMT
    With stress fractures if you press in a specific spot it's really painful. There may be inflamed areas around it, but if there's a money spot then you might be in trouble. I think sometimes the muscle problems around the bone inflame it though...I believe that's why they're called shin splints I could be totally wrong though. It could be that you had the fracture in hs, and it's something that's acting up because you're running too heavy and thus putting that much more force on the bone. Running too heavy typically means running too hard. It doesn't sound like you're running very efficiently. Really you need shorter quicker strides and more of a midfoot footstrike on your easy runs. It might not hurt to slow up the pace as well so you can find a good rhythm that feels natural and keeps you from experiencing pain.

    Have you tried any orthotics are other shock absorbing inserts?
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    Sep 27, 2009 2:03 AM GMT
    if he had a stress fracture , wouldn't he have experienced intense swelling?
    I had one on my fibula about 5 years ago. I was running when the bone finally gave. Within seconds , my ankle doubled in size and i could barely walk back to the car. Took 3 months to heal ( fortunately i could still bike on it ).
    The culprit were my shoes which were too worn out.

    Pain on the tibia , at the front ,is the usual shin splints description.
    Running heavy could certainly be a cause.
    Buy any magazine on running, they will tell you the same i wrote above:

    shouldn't see your feet while running , if you do , stride is too long.
    minimize ground contact time, this ensures a lighter contact.

    and if you could access trails , like in a park or a wood nearby, it could save you. Soft ground is best.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 27, 2009 2:54 AM GMT
    Runninchlt saidWith stress fractures if you press in a specific spot it's really painful. There may be inflamed areas around it, but if there's a money spot then you might be in trouble. I think sometimes the muscle problems around the bone inflame it though...I believe that's why they're called shin splints I could be totally wrong though. It could be that you had the fracture in hs, and it's something that's acting up because you're running too heavy and thus putting that much more force on the bone. Running too heavy typically means running too hard. It doesn't sound like you're running very efficiently. Really you need shorter quicker strides and more of a midfoot footstrike on your easy runs. It might not hurt to slow up the pace as well so you can find a good rhythm that feels natural and keeps you from experiencing pain.

    Have you tried any orthotics are other shock absorbing inserts?


    Well, there's definitely a specific spot that's really painful when I put pressure on it, which I believe is right on my tibia.
    But I do think I got the fracture in HS on my senior year. Like I said I didn't run long distance in the spring for track and field because I wanted to try something different and ended up doing hurdles, which I was pretty good at but wasn't able to finish the season because of the same pain that I have now and that's pretty much when it all started and I didnt run again until this summer. My right leg was my lead leg while my left leg was my trail leg, so I believe that when I was landing and striking the floor with my left leg to keep the speed, I was putting so much force on it that that it might have caused the stress fracture.
    But as for my running and my footstrike, I dont think its a problem.
    I've always had a forefoot strike and I mean I did run for 4 years with no problem and no injuries so I can't guess why that would be a problem. But I do understand why a midfoot strike would be better.
    As for my stride, i definitely have a quick stride and a fast turnover, but for how heavy i run, it depends on the surface. I never used to run on treadmills until this summer, the surface is just too hard and doesnt provide any cushioning. So I can see how that might be a problem.
    I have not tried any orthotic or anything else like that tho.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 27, 2009 11:13 AM GMT
    Runners can get lower leg pain from three causes. It can be difficult at times to tell which one is causing the problem.

    1. Shin splints (medial tibial stress syndrome) is an inflammation of the lining of the tibia (periostium). The periostium becomes inflamed by the constant pulling of muscles.
    The symptoms of shin splints are as follows:

    * Pain over the inside lower half of the shin.
    * Pain at the start of exercise which often eases as the session continues
    * Pain often returns after activity and may be at its worse the next morning.
    * Sometimes some swelling.
    * Lumps and bumps may be felt when feeling the inside of the shin bone.
    * Pain when the toes or foot are bent downwards.
    * A redness over the inside of the shin (not always present).

    Shin splints tend to occur when running intensity is suddenly increased .
    If you over pronate your foot, this can worsen the problem.
    Treatment is rest, ice, tape the shin, stretching the tibialis posterior muscle and wear shock absorbing insoles. You should be checked by a professional for over pronation or supination. There are orthotics for for over pronation and supination.

    Pronation is the inward roll of the foot that allows the body to absorb shock and adapt to uneven surfaces. It occurs as soon as the heel touches the ground. Over-pronation is associated with flat feet.

    Supination is the slight outward roll which makes the foot more rigid and ready for push-off. It occurs as your body weight moves over your foot from the midfoot to the forefoot. Over-supination is associated with a very high arch (the opposite of flat foot).

    cond_prosup.jpg
    Injuries can occur when one's foot either pronates or supinates excessively. Those who are predisposed to excessive pronation strike the ground on the outside portion of their heel to the extent that their foot continues to roll in past the point where it should stop. This flattens the arch of the foot. The result - despite the fact that excessive pronators absorb shock well - is instability in the foot. An unstable foot can cause shin pain, knee pain and low back pain.

    Those with excessive supination have the opposite problem. They often have inflexible feet with high arches. While such feet are stable, they don't absorb shock well. As a result, runners with this problem often suffer injuries that result from jarring forces (like stress fractures).

    You can tell by shoe wear if you might be a pronator or supinator

    If most of the shoe wear is:

    * On the medial (inside) side then you Overpronate
    * On the lateral (outside) side then you Underpronate or Supinate
    * Uniform across the forefoot then you have a Neutral Foot

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/shin-splints/DS00271

    2. Stress fractures can occur in either the tibia or fibula. There are couple of things can increase the risk for stress fractures. One of these is changing the running surface. Another cause is running with fatigued muscles. The fatigued muscles are no longer able to absorb the stress. The stress is then applied to the bones. Osteoporosis can result in stress fractures. I have never seen osteoporosis cause a stress fracture in a male, but have seen it happen to several female runners. With a stress fracture there should be localized tenderness to touch. Swelling may occur. Stress fractures are small, so they may not show up on a plain x-ray. Occasionally a radioisotope scan is needed to diagnose a stress fracture. The healing fracture will pick up the isotope and light up when scanned. Usually all that is needed for a stress fracture is rest and analgesics. More severe cases may need casting, crutches and minimizing weight bearing.
    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-fractures/DS00556

    3. Compartment syndrome is the most serious of the problems, but is fortunately not common. Compartment syndrome occurs when the muscles and tendons swell and compress adjacent nerves and blood vessels. The symptoms can be dramatic and include numbness, muscle weakness and paleness. Runners can develop a
    chronic compartment syndrome. The pain with chronic compartment syndrome does not occur at rest. The pain of stress fracture and shin splints can occur at rest. If you want to read more about this syndrome, here are couple links.
    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chronic-exertional-compartment-syndrome/DS00789

    http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/leg_injuries/a/leg3.htm
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 28, 2009 4:53 AM GMT
    I've had a stress fracture before. Tibia, upper area near the knee. And it hurt bad. To the point where I couldn't walk on that leg or put any sort of pressure on it.

    It started out as a random sharp discomfort. Not exactly painful. I thought it was just tight muscles because the discomfort would go away as soon as I started running and my body warmed up.

    But one day, I was doing wind sprints and the discomfort turned into pain. After I went home and my body started to cool down, the pain got really intense. It hurt to touch it, it hurt to stand on it, or even lift my leg up while lying down. Went to get an x-ray and it was stress fracture.

    If my experience sounds like yours, then you might have a stress fracture. But to me, it doesn't sound like a stress fracture. You've been running regularly for a while. And doing other running type sports. So your bones should be nice and dense about now.

    I'm thinking you're just pounding the ground too hard. Take lighter steps with each stride. You also might want to consider doing so calf/shin exercises. Do some calf raises at the gym and do "toe points" as well.

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