Shin splints (medical term: medial tibial stress syndrome; M.T.S.S.), is a mechanical stress induced injury to the muscles, bones and/or connective tissue that runs along the front edge of the lower leg (tibia) below the knee and above the ankle.
In sever cases of shin splints due to repeated biomechanical stress, the muscles covering the shin can actually lift/tear away from the tibia causing parts of the bone to fracture away with it.
Shin splints can potentially ruin or even end your running plans for months. They are fairly easily diagnosed by sharp pains that occurs along the front edge of the shins, especially during running. This pain will increase when turning the foot outward or inward or doing toe raises.
First and foremost it is caused by repetitive high-impact exercise to the legs and feet without a proper build-up or training period occurring first.
Being overweight increases the likelihood of acquiring this injury and exacerbates the condition once it occurs. Excessive pronation of the foot is recognized as a potential cause and an exacerbating factor. Pronation is the turning down of the inward parts of the foot where the arch takes on a more flat footed appearance. Low arches in your footwear is a recognized cause as well. Some advise to not run on severely crowned road sides or banked running tracks as these have been identified as potential culprits.
You will have to stop running altogether to properly heal this condition. Examine all of your footwear, especially your athletic footwear, to insure they all have proper arch support and also enough support to restrict pronation of the foot. Consult a podiatrist or orthotics specialist if needed to insure your foot is properly supported and there are no biomechanical problems with your foot structure.
Compression socks or calf sleeves have been recognized for providing some relief to the symptoms (see pictures below). Non-impact muscle strengthening exercises should be introduced after the pain has passed.
These include toe raises and toe lifts as well as inward and outward toe rolls.
Running can be reintroduced but very slowly after you have healed from this injury and as long as no pain is felt.
1. If new to starting or coming off a long winter, build up your running distances incrementally and plan for adequate rest periods between runs. Rest days are as vital to development, repair, and strength as the exercises themselves.
2. Don't skimp on the running shoes.
3. Don't run on banked ovals or crowned roadsides.
4. If you know you pronate your feet, talk to a specialist about arch supports.
5. Lose weight if you are not the proper weight for your body size.
6. Eat a balanced diet including enough calcium and proteins to allow for full muscle and bone repair between workouts.
Please note the above notes are only suggestions from a life long runner, please consult your doctor for professional advise on any injury that you experience.
Shin Splint Compression Support Socks/Sleeve Suggestions