Ever been forced to stop a good run because of a burning feeling in your shins and immediately assume its shin splints?
Well friends, today I am going to explain how you probably aren’t experiencing shin splints but rather muscle fatigue. Shin splints, are when there is pain on the inner part of the tibia (lower leg) due to stress on the tibia itself and if not addressed, can lead to a hairline (stress) fracture.
However, this is more uncommon than people think. A more common explanation of the pain you are experiencing is most likely lactic acid build up in the Tibialis Anterior (TA). The idea that your lower leg pain when running is actually TA fatigue rather than shin splints is based on the fact that this discomfort is more common in people who are heel-strikers.
The action of the TA is to dorsiflex the foot from the medial arch. So think of it like this, every time a heel-strike runner takes a step, they activate the TA muscle to lift the foot so that the heel can hit the ground first. Like any muscle in the body, if it is overactive beyond its lactic threshold, it will develop an abundance of Hydrogen atoms and cause a burning feeling within the area of that muscle – which in this case is the shin.
You may believe you’re experiencing shin splints, and you very well may be, but it’s most likely lactic acid build up in the Tibialis Anterior. If you experience a burning feeling along your shin while running, I challenge you to questions your running mechanics and check out my “Gait” post – the link is below – rather than use shin splints as an excuse!