My Shins Hurt When Using a Treadmill

Running on the treadmill can help you burn calories, lose weight, improve your cardiovascular health and increase your endurance. It can also lead to sharp pain in your shins with each step. If no other injury has been sustained in that area, pain in your shins when running is usually the result of shin splits. You don't have to let this common runner's injury interfere with your workout routine, however. There are steps you can take to relieve the pain and prevent it from coming back.

Those who run often or participate in running sports can experience pain from shin splints. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Pinpointing Pain

The pain associated with shin splints occurs in the lower part of the front of your leg. It can affect your shin in the area between your bone and the outer muscle that runs alongside your shin bone. This pain can occur when you begin exercising, come and go throughout your workout, and reoccur with fury after you are finished exercising. While shin splints can be painful, they are not considered a serious condition. However, if you believe you have shin splints, get evaluated by your doctor who can determine if the cause of your pain is due to shin splints or a more serious injury.

Tread Softly

Causes of shin splints for those who run often on the treadmill include training errors and bio-mechanical issues. Shin splint pain from training errors occurs when the muscles and tendons in the shins become overworked and can no longer efficiently absorb the shock force from your feet pounding on your running surface. Lack of cushion on the treadmill, unsupportive shoes, starting a workout routine after a long period of inactivity and increasing the intensity of your workouts without proper build up can all cause training errors that lead to shin splints. Bio-mechanical issues, like being flat-footed, can cause the ankle and foot to roll in when you run. This causes the muscle in your lower leg to over-stretch, leading to painful shin splints.

Stretch It Out

There are stretches you can do to treat shin splints and relieve the associated pain. To perform the seated shin stretch, sit on your lower legs with the tops of your feet facing down and your bottom resting on your heels. Push down on your heels gently to stretch your shins, hold for 30 seconds. Do this stretch three times. To do the soleus stretch, stand facing the wall. Step back with one leg and bend that knee keeping your heel down on the ground. This will stretch the lower part of your calf and relieve pain in the shin. Lean forward to stretch the rest of the calf. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three times.

A Little TLC

Shin splint treatment shouldn't stop at stretching. To further relieve shin splint pain, stop exercising for at least 48 to 72 hours to allow your muscles and tendons to rest. Ice your shins. Wrap your shins to compress them and reduce swelling. Elevate your legs to prevent blood flow to the area. Apply heat and massage your lower leg. To reduce future shin splint pain, wear shoe insoles that are designed to absorb shock. If you have overpronation in your feet, also know as being flat-footed, you may need special shoe insoles that provide arch support and reduce pressure on the muscles in your lower leg. Also wear supportive shoes and do not wear shoes that are too old since they can lose their supportive properties.

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