Pain During Running: Knee & Shin Pain

Pain During Running: Knee & Shin Pain

Finding the motivation and time to exercise is one thing. Having pain stop you in your tracks is another. As knee injuries make up over one-quarter of all running injuries, and shin splints are faced by many runners and gym-goers alike, today the Marlborough Podiatry team are giving you an insight into these two common causes of pain during running.

Runner’s Knee Pain

Runner’s knee is the common term for patellofemoral pain syndrome. Like the proper name suggests, the pain is linked to the patella (the kneecap) and the femur (the thigh bone). It is caused by the kneecap moving irregularly as the knee bends and straightens, resulting in it continuously rubbing against the femur and causing pain and damage. As bending and straightening the knee repetitively is integral in running, it is more common in runners.

The reason for the patella moving irregularly may be due to:

  • Having muscle imbalances (tightness or weakness) that create an uneven pull on the patella
  • Misaligned or suboptimally functioning feet or legs
  • Overuse – participating in activities that excessively bend and straighten the knee – and increasing the intensity or duration of these too quickly. These activities include squatting, skiing, basketball, and of course, running, as examples

Runner’s knee can cause pain behind the kneecap and around the knee. It may start as a niggle or dull ache, and continue to worsen as the bending-and-straightening activities continue.

Shin Splints

Shin splints are what many people think when they develop pain at the front of their shins. Truthfully, there are three conditions that may fall under the category of shin splints, as it is a non-specific term. These include medial tibial stress syndrome, anterior compartment syndrome, and a tibial stress fracture. Today, we’re going to be talking about the one most people will consider as shin splints medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS).

MTSS, just like the name, is caused by excess stress on the medial (inside) portion of your tibia (shin bone). When the muscles that attach to the front and inside of the shins are overused or strained, damage to either the muscles themselves, or the lining of the shin bone, is damaged. This causes pain and swelling, while making it much less comfortable to continue movements that activate these muscles – of which a key one is running.

Common causes for overusing these muscles include:

  • Having a flatter (pronated) foot type
  • Biomechanical issues in the feet or legs
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Unsupportive footwear

Treating leg pain when you’re a runner

The first step to treating your pain is getting the right diagnosis. Just like shin splints may have many causes aside from MTSS, knee pain can also have many causes, each with differing approaches to treatment.

Once we understand the problem you’re facing, its severity, and what has caused it, we’ll create a tailored treatment plan to help you get the best results. This plan will not only focus on relieving your current symptoms, but will also help you run without pain in the future while reducing the likelihood of your problem recurring. We may use:

  • Strapping
  • Footwear changes or advice
  • Orthotics
  • Dry needling
  • A stretching and strengthening programme
  • Gait retraining

Need help running comfortably?

Our experienced podiatry team would love to help. To book an appointment, call us on (03) 972 2927 or book online here

Leave a Reply