Shin splints are a common condition affecting runners. While most commonly referring to medial tibial stress syndrome, a painful inflammation of the inner border of the tibia (shin bone) from repetitive calf muscle pull, the condition can also be from tendonitis, or a stress fracture of the tibia. A stress fracture results when repetitive stress or impact causes bone injury which does not have the chance to heal due to continued stresses, and cumulatively results in a break in the bone.
The most common causes of shin splints include a change in the running surface, muscle imbalance, worn or improper running shoes such as wearing court sport sneakers for running, or increases in workout distance, frequency or intensity.
Prevention occurs by starting with the appropriate running shoe for your foot type. Evaluation of foot and ankle alignment will assist with finding the proper running shoes for pronators, those with low arches whose feet roll in while running, and supinators, those with high arches whose feet roll out with running. Most running shoe manufacturers have shoes for the different foot types. The knowledgeable staff at the Runner’s High can evaluate your foot and ankle and recommend the appropriate running shoe type.
Slowly increasing the distance, frequency, and velocity of running can allow the body to accommodate to the stresses of running. Running on soft or cushioned surfaces can also reduce stress on the lower limb and prevent shin splints. Stretching to maintain flexibility and working to balance your muscle strength, is important.
The treatment for shin splints includes relative rest with a period of no running. Conditioning can be maintained by non-impact exercises such as cycling or swimming. Stretching and strengthening to balance muscle strength on the front of the leg with the calf muscles is important. If a stress fracture occurs, rest and avoidance of impact and repetitive stresses is necessary to allow healing. In rare cases surgery is needed to obtain healing.
Contact AOSMI physicians who specialize in sports medicine to discuss further treatment and prevention options, call 732-720-2555 today for an appointment.