By: Andrew Mason
If you’ve ever had a burning pain in your shins forcing you to cut a run short or take a break from your workout, chances are you have encountered shin splints. This condition is painful and can show up at the most inopportune times affecting runners and other highly active individuals alike. In this article, we will cover what they are, what causes them and what you can do to prevent and treat them.
What are shin splints?
The term ‘shin splints’ refers to what is medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome (mtss). As this name suggests, the tibia (the long bone on the front of your shin) and its surrounding structures can become stressed or overworked causing irritation that is typically felt as a burning pain along your shin.
What causes shin splints?
Though the pain you feel in your shin may seem sudden, this condition rarely shows up overnight. They are generally a result of repeated stresses that develop into the pain we are familiar with. These repeated stresses occur when we push our bodies harder or faster than they are accustomed to. Overtime our bones and muscles can become overworked and unable to deal with landing impacts or quick directional changes. Here is a list of some of the most common causes of medial tibial stress syndrome:
– Inadequate warm-up period prior to exercise
– Excessive training
– Muscular weakness, imbalances or tightness
– Poor running technique or form
– Training on sloped or uneven surfaces
– Unsuitable footwear
– Flat feet (also known as fallen arches)
What are the best treatment options for shin splints?
While the best and easiest way to deal with shin splints is to prevent them in the first place, traditional treatment involves a period of rest (a few days to a couple weeks) from the aggravating activity and periodic icing for the inflammation. While taking a few weeks off training is extremely frustrating and the last thing you may want
to do, it is necessary to allow the overworked tissues time to repair. Unfortunately, however, without proper diagnosis and appropriate exercise modifications, shin splints may reappear as soon as you restart your training, putting you right back where you started.
Here are some helpful tips to prevent or get rid of shin splints:
– Stretch your calves and shin muscles
– Warm up before you begin your exercise
– Strengthen your core and leg muscles
– Check your training form
– Use a foam roller on your calves and shin muscles
How we can help
Though shin splints can be a setback in your training, they are treatable. Our care providers here at Kauai Therapy and Wellness are trained to diagnose and treat the source of shin splints to get you back on your feet as quickly as possible. By treating the root cause through evaluation of muscle strength, imbalances, and tension, along with running form, unique foot shape, and footwear we can help you beat the pesky pain keeping you from enjoying your workouts or getting out for a run during these beautiful summer months.