Shin splints are a common injury, especially in new runners. They are painful but usually come with a much quicker recovery time than the dreaded stress fracture. Read on to discover more about shin splints.
What: Shin splints is the common name for the official medical condition known as medial tibial stress syndrome. It causes pain along the long bone in the front of the lower leg called the tibia and is frequently seen in runners, especially new ones or those increasing mileage.
Cause: Shin splints are caused by inflammation of the muscles, tendons and tissues surrounding the tibia. This inflammation can result from a sudden change in training routines, an increase in intensity or a poor foot strike due to weak hips, over pronation and a lack of core strength.
Symptoms: Symptoms of shin splints include tenderness and soreness along the length of the tibia and inner leg as well as possible swelling of the lower leg. Sometimes the pain will go away as activity continues but eventually it becomes constant. Of course, if you’re having serious constant pain, getting an x-ray to rule out a stress fracture is always a good idea.
Treatments: Shin splints are usually treated with rest, ice four times a day for 15-20 minutes and mild anti-inflammatories. Compression sleeves are a good way to provide additional support and warmth to weaker areas during healing.
Recovery: During the healing process, it’s important to swap out your high impact activity that caused the injury for lower impact activities like swimming, water running and biking. You’ll also want to spend some time doing range of motion and strength training exercises that will help your body move correctly and prevent shin splints from occurring. Once you’re healed, slowly rebuild high impact activities back in being sure to give your bones, tissues and muscles time to toughen up.
*This post was originally written for and published on The Runner Dad*