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What Causes Sore Shins?

By Patti Kate
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are several causes for sore shins, some of which include improper shoe fit and over-exertion of leg muscles. Another cause may be physical activity without prior warm-up exercises or incorrect stretching. Torn ligaments and calf muscles may also cause sore shins. A condition known as tibial stress syndrome may also produce symptoms of pain and soreness in the shins and lower legs.

Shin splints may cause sore shins and pain in the calf area. This also may be caused by tendinitis or other inflammatory conditions. Shin splint soreness occurs when repetitive motion strain leads to injury of the lower leg. There are various factors that can produce this. Most often shin splints, also referred to as tibial stress syndrome, are due to participation in sports that cause impact on muscles and tendons.

When a person wears shoes that cause fatigue and strain, he may be prone to issues involving the feet, legs, and joints. Wearing improperly fitted shoes, or even wearing the wrong type of shoe for exercise may contribute to soreness. Runners and athletes must choose the correct shoe with proper support and cushion to prevent such injuries.

Some diseases or medical conditions may cause soreness in the lower legs and shins. Diabetes is one disease that may produce these symptoms. Diabetics are also prone to infections from sores that are slow healing, and this too may contribute to pain in the shins or legs.

Peripheral artery disease may cause circulatory problems and pain in various parts of the body. This is due to arteries that have become narrow and often blocked. Pain or soreness may be localized in the legs or shins, or felt throughout the body. Smoking or high blood pressure can lead to narrowing of the arteries, which, in turn, may cause sore shins in some cases.

A more common condition known as varicose veins often may cause sore shins and leg pain. This is due to swelling and inflammation of the affected legs. When the enlarged veins protrude through the skin, walking may become painful and soreness in the shin area may result.

Some people are highly sensitive to extreme temperatures. For these individuals, exposure to cold temperatures may cause shin soreness. The discomfort generally goes away when the affected area is gradually warmed. Shin discomfort caused by cold temperatures can be easily prevented by wearing warm layers of clothing and keeping the legs covered when exposed to the cold.

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Discussion Comments
By Markus — On Jun 25, 2011

@ladyjane - It sounds like you may have shin splints. You should do proper leg stretches and plenty of warm-ups before you run to help prevent splints. An ice pack can help reduce the pain when it occurs, and sometimes alternating between hot and cold packs helps too.

Since you haven't been running regularly for awhile it might be wise that you try not to overdue it in the beginning. You need to build up your momentum as it may be impossible to start out say two miles or three miles where you were before you got pregnant.

Take a few days off to allow the shin pain to heal itself and then resume again with shorter runs. If you overdue it you could cause severe damage to your muscles and we don't want that to happen.

By ladyjane — On Jun 23, 2011

After I got pregnant with my daughter I gave up running for awhile since my doctor suggested it might be too risky to continue. Now that she's a bit older I have resumed running once again but now I seem to get terribly sore shins after running.

I've never had this feeling in my legs before my pregnancy. I don't know what is causing this because I'm not doing anything different than I have in the past.

I do plenty of stretches before I run and I wear what I think are the best running shoes around. I was proud of myself yesterday for running two miles in one shot but when I hit the bed last night, that is when I felt the soreness in my legs.

Any ideas from you other runners on what can be causing this pain or if I need to make some kind of adjustments is greatly appreciated.

By ellafarris — On Jun 21, 2011

My husband's grandmother had a heavy degree of varicose veins in both of her legs that she had terribly sore shins when we went walking.

She is a fairly small woman but her legs were always heavy and somewhat bumpy and discolored where the veins would be protruding.

Eventually she had them surgically removed or most of them removed anyway. She is doing well today and looks better than ever.

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