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One of These Things Is Not Like the Others

There is only one thing runners love more than running — and that’s complaining about all the petty discomforts of running. This image, which I found on fuelrunning.com, sticks pretty close to that theme, except for one thing: shin splints.

Shin splints is used, often very loosely, as a bucket term for lower-leg pain. It can be as benign as a little soreness as you increase your mileage, or the result of some weakness, tightness, or anatomical features in your lower leg. It can also be as serious as stress fracture or compartment syndrome. These conditions are less common, but they are serious and require different treatment from other lower-leg pain. Stress fractures requires the runner to stop high-impact exercise, and although chronic compartment syndrome is more common in runners, acute compartment syndrome can be a medical emergency requiring surgery, and can be caused by an injury that does not seem serious at first.

If you have shin splits, don’t blow it off like you would some bruises from hurdles, and definitely don’t take pride in it, as you should in brawny calves. Although many people experience a benign dull soreness after a heavy workout, exercise should not routinely hurt you, and recurring pain should be investigated and treated.

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