Shin splints – ouch!

Photo by Mike Baird: bairdphotos.com

Shin splints is an inflammatory condition of one or more of the muscles in the lower leg.  It’s a general term that does not specify any specific problem, but rather a location of the pain.  Pain is generally on the outside/front or inside/back of the lower leg.  It is now more commonly referred to as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome.

There are many potential causes for “shin splints”.  Overuse from improper training or too rapid of progression of training, are common causes.  Some of the more recent evidence identifies the soleus calf muscle, the flexor digitorium longus, posterior tibialis, and/or deep fascia as potential culprits.  Flat feet or feet with high arches can also lead to medial tibial stress syndrome. Overtime the muscles become weakened from being overstretched and irritated.

So what are some of the ways to treat shin splints?

Proper identification of the involved muscle is key.  After a period of rest, strengthening and stretching of the involved muscles groups should be started slowly and carefully to remodel the tissue.  Strengthening of the core and hips will also help to control the lower leg by decreasing the stress to the involved muscles.  Proper shoewear is always important. When symptoms have resolved, return to running. slowly by starting on a treadmill at approximately 50% of pre-injury volume.  Slowly progress on the treadmill prior to returning to the road.

Stay tuned for some video on exercises to prevent medial tibial stress syndrome.

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