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603 Views 1 Reply Latest reply: Mar 22, 2013 6:13 PM by JamesJohnsonLMT
eldebro Rookie 5 posts since
Aug 23, 2002
Currently Being Moderated

Mar 22, 2013 1:29 PM

Medial shin pain in one leg only

Hello, everyone!  I used to be an avid running and fell off the wagon for a few years.  For the last year, I've been slowly getting back into it.  I run primarily on the treadmill because of my wacky work schedule and NE weather.  I slowly worked my way up to running 5-6 miles and started to develop some tenderness at the inside (medial) lower shin on my left leg only.  I had been running in Newton Motion shoes, which have some stability.  I wore inserts, as well, for additional support.  I incorporated more crosstraining, warm up and stretching before and after.  Still, I had this tenderness in my left shin.  Not pain and tolerable, but annoying.  I backed off and took a break.  I attempted to run in my stable shoes and had the same issue.  I land on my midfoot and have become accustomed to running in a lighter shoe.  I'm just really frustrated that I can't seem to shake this shin splint on one leg.  In the past when I was running much longer and more frequently, I had off and on left knee pain.  The transition to the Newton's helped my form improve and the knee pain is no more.  Still, it's been replaced by this medial shin pain.  Should I wear a beefier insert in the left shoe?  I just don't know what to do.  I love running and want to get back at it!  I have had a lot of restraint, which has been disappointing, and am not running nearly as long as I'd like in an effort to EASE back into this.


Any advice would be much appreciated!

  • JamesJohnsonLMT Legend 1,283 posts since
    Aug 23, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Mar 22, 2013 6:13 PM (in response to eldebro)
    Re: Medial shin pain in one leg only

    I've had something like that before. It doesn't necessarily go away soon enough, but there are some techniques for approaching it. As far as causes go, can't completely rule out the treadmill (try incline turned completely off), but the treadmill helps rule out uneven running surfaces. In my case a similar aching pain happened in my short leg, and persisted for many months, one of other symptoms that forced me to cut back on my running. Long story short, it's not the end of everything to cut back for a long time, it just takes longer to climb back in later.


    Try to determine where on your shin the pain originates. You have to slow down and take some time out for learning your body. This morning, I was waiting in a long line, which was the only way I got a break from my busy schedule. I decided to attack some chronic elbow pain and found a lot with my fingers in a very specific spot. I could actually taste it at the back of my throat when I worked the area with my fingers. I used to have similar experiences with my leg. You have to take a seat, focus, and find the source. Differentiate between the kind of pain a fracture might produce, or a stress or avulsion fracture where muscle and bone begin to separate. There is also the more common myofascial pain found in knotted spots of (what are usually) tight muscles. It's not the label we apply to a snapshot in time that counts, it is the process creating that situation that is most important.


    Getting back to training after a layoff is a real pain sometimes, because everything has to build up again. If there are no overarching health issues like hormonal imbalance, bone softening or brittleness, metabolic disorders that predispose you to inflammation, you can pretty much count on occasional setbacks being answered by a gradual strengthening. If the wheels are coming off, and you've tried cutting back with no success, look for environmental and anatomical causes for this kind of repetitive motion injury. Have a knowledgeable person analyze your running on that treadmill for clues as to why the injury occurs on one side. There is usually an explanation, such as running style, physical asymmetry, or bone structure.


    I wore a firm pad in my short-leg shoe that eventually paid off. Too much control can cause your body to fight it, resulting in more pain, not less. Make the changes as forgiving as you can, to address a specific problem and not to attempt to perfect your form. Part of that perfection must be trained in; it does not come from props. It also can help to have professional guidance specific to your case, if the solutions are not too limiting. Some shoes, braces, orthotics, etc., represent too much control, though the intentions are good.


    It is important, meanwhile, to nail down the location of whatever damage is hurting you. Explore the immediate area, but also the muscles and tendons acting on that area, which may be remote to the pain site. Problems there can make the pain come back even if the site were to heal. My guess is an anatomical cause that hasn't been compensated for, with moving symptoms that may continue to change (Knee, shin, what's next?). Find the source of the problem, as I found mine.

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