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Recently I have started getting a very painful seizing in my shin muscles at the very beginning of a run. It's so painful I have to stop and stretch. I can't run through it. It happens after maybe 5 minutes of gentle running - the muscles right at the front of the shin (the ones that rest on the outer side of the bone) are burning, rock hard (like a cramp, but they're not in cramp), and it's agony! I stop, stretch, rest for a minute, then can jog again for a short distance and it happens again. After the second time, if I rest again, it becomes bearable and I can start jogging very slowly. After another 3 miles or so, it has worn off completely - and I can run, sprint, leap and do cartwheels for the rest of my 11 mile route.

I've always found running a breeze. What the hell is going on here???
 

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Is this shinsplints? I've heard it mentioned but don't quite know what it is!
 

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I doubt this is shin-splints although I think there are several kinds of injuries in the shin area that are described as shin-splints. Mine is usually an ache/burn in the area between the front muscle and the bone. Its usually caused by me overtraining and stretching the calf muscle and strenthening the muscle on the front of the shin.
 

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I'm suffering a similar problem but its calmed down now I do some shin stregnthening exercises. the main one I do through the day is with all my weight on my good foot and keeping my "bad" leg straight lift my foot up only bending the ankle for 30secs-two mins at a time. you'll feel the muscle on your shin get a slight burn. nothing painful but has helped me. I do this as many times a day when I can remember.
 

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Sounds to me like something called compartment syndrome (NOT shin splints... most people these days think that if their shins hurt that they've got shin splints... It's just not the common injury that people think it is ;) ).
I think that this occurs mainly in the calves and shins. Put basically, muscle fibres are grouped in bundles, with each bundle being enclosed in a sheath. Sometimes, for whatever reason, the sheathes become inflexible. When the muscle starts to work, the blood supply increases and the muscle needs to expand to allow for the extra blood. If the enclosing sheath is unable to stretch to allow for this, the blood just gets forced/packed into the muscle which, I think, explains the hardness and tightness experienced.
I've gone through several periods of suffering with the same thing; maybe for two or three weeks at a time. I've never actually understood the reason why this occurs; but as with every other niggling injury/pain, I've just got on with it and carried on the best I could at the time. I think that I remember once, during a run, resorting to stopping by a puddle and splashing the cold water onto my shins. This has an almost instantaneous (although temporary) affect, as it momentarily diverts the flow of blood away from the affected area.

A more famous sufferer of compartment syndrome was Dave Moorcroft, back in the 80's.
He had trouble with his calves, but battled on with his training. I believe his performances were quite badly affected as he was unable to train or race to his potential. In the end he had surgery on his legs, thus freeing him to run as normal; the result being a World Record 5,000m in 13 min.
 
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