Shin splints are a very common injury among runners, especially among those who have just started running or those who have recently increased their distances. An overuse injury, shin splints occur when the muscle that connects to the tibia begins to pull away from the bone. This muscle is what keeps your whole foot from hitting the ground when you land on your heel, so it is placed under pressure during every stride.
Though this can be aggravating, you do need to take time off from your running schedule in order to allow the muscle enough time to heal. Failing to do so won't just cause you pain and discomfort — you can also create a chronic injury. Here are three important reasons why you need to take a rest from running after being diagnosed with shin splints.
1. You'll Place Additional Stress on Other Muscles and Tendons
When you try to run through your shin splints, it's almost impossible to keep to the right motion. Instead, the associated discomfort usually makes runners start to land and push off from the outside of their feet. Unfortunately, this places pressure on other muscles and tendons, and this is not the way that your body was designed to be used. If you change your gait and begin running in a way that creates biomechanical malalignments, you make yourself susceptible to further injuries, including stress fractures in the legs and feet, inflammation in the hip, knee and ankle joints, and even back pain.
2. You'll Create Excess Scar Tissue
When your body repairs the injury to your muscle, it will need to create scar tissue. If you continue to run while this process is still occurring, you'll create more tears in the muscle, which will necessitate the creation of even more scar tissue. Unfortunately, having more scar tissue makes it easier for the area in question to become injured again in the future. Every time you run while suffering from shin splints you'll increase the time needed for recovering and make it more likely for a whole new injury to occur in the future.
3. You'll Miss the Chance to Correct the Underlying Problem
Finally, keep in mind that shin splints occur due to more than overuse; if you decide to 'run through the pain', you'll miss out on the chance to correct the underlying issue. For example, it could be that the muscles in your lower legs aren't strong enough. It would therefore be sensible to stop running so you can focus on strengthening your lower legs using other exercises. If you do this, you'll be addressing the root cause of the injury and this will prevent further injuries and improve your performance while running in the future.
Talk with a sports podiatrist at a clinic like Chatswood Foot Clinic to learn more about diagnosing foot and leg problems associated with running.