Shin splints can present in several different ways, but in short, yes, they can be painful. It needs to be noted, that you should always have shin splints checked out by a medical professional. This will rule out a stress fracture, as they can present in the same way.
Initially, you may notice a dull ache and muscular tightness down the bony edge of your shin bone. This is the body highlighting that there is muscular imbalance and you are overusing the muscles down the front.
If untreated shin splints can become very painful. It will become sharper and your shin bone may become tender to touch. You may find that you do not experience the first phase and immediately develop this sharp pain that stops when you stop exercising. This is an indication of abnormal loading through the foot, ankle and lower leg or, a sudden increase in exercise without the correct level of strength training before.
If untreated the symptoms can become more continuous and remain for longer periods of time. Even after you stop training.
With shin splints, the boney edge of the shin bone can be tender to touch and in some cases can feel bumpy. However, the pain, discomfort and tenderness are more generalised over the whole area of the shin. If you press on the shin bone and feel a sharp sudden pain in a specific area, it is important to have it checked by a medical professional to make sure that it is not a stress fracture.
Shin splints should not have any bruising. Bruising indicates that the body is trying to repair itself. During an injury or trauma blood vessels can be damaged, blood flowing into an area causes the discolouration under the skin that we know as a bruise. Shin splints will present as a dull ache that can gradually worsen if not treated but bruising indicates that something else may be occurring and it is worth having it checked out by a medical professional.
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