I do not know one runner who has not been tormented by shin splints.
A shin splint is leg pain that occurs below the knee either on the front outside part of the leg (anterior shin splints) or the inside of the leg (medial shin splints). There are several theories out there on what an actual shin splint is. Some of those theories are:
- small tears in the muscle that’s pulled off the bone
- an inflammation of the periosteum (a thin sheath of tissue that wraps around the tibia, or shin bone)
- an inflammation of the muscle
- some combination of 1, 2, and 3
So what causes the actual pain?
Shin splints and stress fractures can often be mistaken for one another. How can you tell the difference?
If you have a stress fracture you will be able to pinpoint a precise area of pain where the fracture occurs. You will not have pain in the morning, as the bone has had time to rest all night. However, in order to get an actual diagnosis you will need an X-ray.
If you have shin splints you will notice more pain in the morning, due to the soft muscle tissue tightening throughout the night. It will also be difficult and painful to point your toes upward. You will also have a larger area of pain.