Pain flared with every step that Charlie took. Not dull pain, like that from overused, achey muscles. Sharp, hesitate and start to worry, pain. Charlie did just that. It confounded him. Yesterday he felt fine. A little lethargic on his run maybe but otherwise fine. He couldn't recall anything he felt or did that might have been a precursor to how he felt today. He reached down and gingerly rubbed his lower leg along his shinbone. It felt sore to the touch but otherwise seemed ok. No protruding bone fragments or anything. He exhaled relief and opted to see if it went away during the day.
It didn't, though the pain did subside. He went from gimping around to walking gingerly to moving normally with a little pain as the day wore on. That encouraged him. He had settled into a nice running focused workout routine the past several weeks. His first worry had been that a prolonged injury would ruin what he'd accomplished. Now it seemed like a minor thing that he could work through. In fact, late in the afternoon he decided to sneak out for a run.
At first it seemed like a good decision. He felt a little soreness but no worse than when he walked around. He settled into a comfortable pace. Before he’d gone a mile though the pain increased. He thought to run through it, but worry crept in. He considered consequences. What if he were making it worse with every step? He turned around and headed back to work.
Head down dejected, he limped to the locker room, nearly colliding with a group headed out for run. The group included his friend Tim.
"Hey Charlie, you OK?" Tim asked from the back of the group?
It took a second for Charlie to spot Tim, he was one of about ten people heading out for a run. "Ya...well...I think."
"I hurt my leg I guess. Not sure what I did though. Just woke up with it hurting."
Tim gave a little nod, "Where?"
Charlie reached for his lower leg.
"Shin splints." Another runner in the group said as soon as she realized he was moving toward his lower leg.
"Shin what?" Charlie asked and looked at her.
"Shin splints." Tim repeated.
"I've had 'em." The woman who spoke earlier said.
"Me too." Someone else in the group chimed in. He mentioned it as if it were a badge of honor.
"Yep, me too. They hurt." Another woman added.
Most in the group started to move toward the door as if they were a group of interns that had just solved a medical issue and were on to the next one.
"Wait," Charlie said to Tim as he walked passed. "What are shin splints?"
Tim stopped. "Oh, its pain in the muscle along the shinbone, usually from overuse. If you ice it and rest for a couple of days it should go away."
"You might want to get a new pair of shoes too," someone added as he moved passed Tim.
Charlie and Tim both looked down.
"And get a new pair of shoes." Tim said. "Those are awful for running."
They left him staring at his shoes. They were fairly new so he was left wondering what was so awful about them.
One of the biggest challenges with starting something new is an associated lack of experience and knowledge. Tim and the other runners in his group where able to diagnose Charlie’s injury in a matter of seconds. Most runners have at least heard of shin splints and many have experienced them. But to Charlie it was something completely new. Shin splints are usually a result of overuse and often occur in runners that increase their activity. They can be painful, but in most cases can be treated with ice and rest. It’s an issue for Charlie but now that he knows whats causing his pain and how to treat it, he’s relieved. In his head he had jumped to worst case scenario’s and caused himself undue stress. He could tackle this problem. Of course his conversation left him with another concern for which he lacked knowledge. That is, the issue with his shoes. Next up we’ll help Charlie understand the problem and then find a better solution.