WHAT ARE SHIN SPLITS?
Shin splints is a general term for pain along the shin and lower leg. There are two types of “shin splints,” anterior and posterior. The most common shin splint is posterior, which is technically referred to as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). MTSS is an inflammation of the tibialis posterior muscle that runs along the inside of the shin. Anterior shin splints are an inflammation of the tibialis anterior muscle which runs along the front and outside of the shin.
With both types of shin splints, a dull, diffuse pain is typically felt during or after a run. Many new runners will experience shin splints as they start to run, but this pain should go away after their body gets used to the stresses of running after a few days. If the pain does not go away or becomes more constant or sharp, it is possible that shin splints can develop into a stress fracture. There are many ways to prevent shin splints from progressing and it is important to seek advice early rather than let the pain get worse.
WHAT CAUSES SHIN SPLINTS?:
- Improper progression of training (trying to do too much too soon)
- Change in running surface (transitioning from track to pavement, pavement to concrete, etc)
- Flat arches or excessive pronation during walking / running (posterior shin splints)
- Improper footwear
- Running in old shoes that are past their life
- Calf tightness/hyper tension in lower leg muscles and tendons
WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT?:
- Are you in the right shoe? Being fit for a proper running/walking shoe can correct over-pronation and can prevent shin splints. If your shin splints are caused by excessive pronation, we suggest a stability or motion control shoe.
- Do you wear an orthotic insert? If not, we suggest you try the Superfeet inserts. Superfeet inserts provide stability to the heel in the shoe, improving balance and biomechanical aloignment. By improving alignment for the body, we can alleviate strain upon the anterior and posterior tibialis.
- Have you considered compression? CEP Compression sleeves and socks apply consistent pressure to the arteries of the lower leg allowing the arteries to relax during activity. This relaxation of the arteries causes an increase in oxygen rich blood flow to working muscles and helps reduce the lactic acid build up in the muscles. By increasing blood flow and reducing lactic acid we alleviate the tension in the lower legs thus alleviating pain.
- Are you stretching your calf and hamstring muscles post run? Some times we experience "shin splints" as a result of tightness in our calfs and hamstrings as a result of improper stretching post activity. By focusing some dedicated time post run to the stretching of these large muscle groups, we can alleviate the build up of lactic acid in our muscles. Products such as Trigger Point, The Stick and Moji can help relieve tension throughout the body, especially the calfs, hamstrings, quads and periformis.
- Rest/cross training to allow the inflammation to go down
- Strengthening of the lower leg muscles
- Increasing your weekly running distance gradually instead of too much, too soon