As sports and other physical activities go, running is arguably one of the least expensive: the only essential equipment is a good-quality pair of shoes. And, in contrast to the once-popular belief that pounding the pavement accelerates wear and tear on your knees, it actually seems to help protect the health of those joints.
In fact, the cycle of striking your foot on the ground and then lifting it squeezes ‘used up’ joint fluid out of the spongey cartilage cushion, then draws ‘fresh’ liquid back in. Since cartilage doesn’t contain blood vessels, this is how it obtains nutrients, and rids itself of waste products.
However, jumping into an ambitious training regimen too rapidly, or wearing unsuitable shoes can sometimes lead to problems, shin splints (aka medial tibial stress syndrome) being one example. One characteristic clue: pain in the shins that comes on when you start running, then eases off.
One of the most common overuse sports injuries, shin splints affect up to 35 percent of ‘new’ runners.
So what are shin splints? And how can you manage symptoms while continuing to stay active?
A big thank-you to Greg Alcock, physiotherapist and clinical and research coordinator at the highly-respected Fowler-Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic and adjunct clinical professor and lecturer in the Faculty of Kinesiology at Western University in London, Ont., for so generously sharing his time and expertise.