Why Does my Shin Muscle Hurt?

Shin muscle, the muscles located in the anterior shin or the front of the shin is called the tibialis anterior

I've started walking and running at the gym and I've noticed a pain around the shin area of my leg after running a couple of minutes. After some research on Wikpedia, I've found that this shin muscle has a name: the muscles located in the anterior shin or the front of the shin is called the tibialis anterior.

According to MadetoRun:

When either running or jumping athletes will sometimes over-stride and forcibly plant on the heel of the foot. This causes a whip like reaction with the distal end of the foot in which the toes are stretched forward and downward (following heel strike), placing significant stress on the muscles and ligaments that regulate your toes, which happen to run up your ankle all the way to your shin. Repeating this motion continues to stress the muscles and ligaments of the shin and can rapidly develop into a debilitating overuse injury. Basically, with a heavy heel strike you are giving the tibialis anterior a bit of whiplash.

Wikipedia notes that:

Shin splints is a general term used to refer to a painful condition in the shins. It is often caused by running, jumping, dancing or sprinting and may be very slow to heal. A formal medical term for the condition is medial tibial stress syndrome.

It may not be obvious why a muscle which raises the toe can be stressed or injured by running, given that it is not responsible for propulsion. The reason is that some runners overstride, and land heavily on the heel with each footstrike (thus, shin splints are a common ailment in military boot camps[4], where recruits march extensively by extending the leg forward and forcefully striking the boot heel on the ground). When this happens, the forefoot rapidly slaps down to the ground. Effectively, the foot, which is dorsiflexed prior to making contact with the ground, is forcefully plantarflexed. This forceful plantar flexion of the foot causes a corresponding rapid stretch in the attached muscles. A reflex in the muscles responds, causing a powerful contraction. It is this eccentric contraction which leads to muscle soreness and possible injury to the muscle, tendon or connective tissue.

Causes for Shin Muscle Pain
The causes are: tight calves, carrying too much weight, running on hard surfaces, wrong shoes or heel striking.
Other things to consider: stop overstriding, replace old shoes, keep your leg warm with long socks, stretch after warm up, slow down or stop if you feel shin splint pain.

My Shin Muscle Pain
Thankfully, my condition isn't too bad and I think it is all about changing my running technique so that I don't strike my heel and focus on landing my foot on the ground mid-foot to ball of the foot.

Shin Muscle Pain Prevention
Another thing I would do is some stretching and strengthening exercises for the tibialis anterior.

Toe Raises to Strengthen Tibialis Anterior

  • Sit on a chair with the knees bent and feet on the floor
  • Lift the toes and forefoot of either one or both feet off the ground, keeping the heel in contact
  • Lift as high as you can and really squeeze at the top and point the toes to the ceiling
  • Return to the starting position

Shin Stretches

Stretching the shins is usually overlooked until an injury such as shin splints occurs. This is a helpful treatment and prevention stretch!

  • Kneel with your shins flat on the ground
  • Sit back on your heels, slowly increasing the pressure
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds
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