Shin Splints: Symptoms And Treatment
What are Shin Splints?
Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS), also known as shin splints, is inflammation 2-6 inches above the ankle, to the anterior or posterior muscles and tendons in the lower leg or adjacent soft tissue along the shin bone. (tibia)
What causes MTSS?
There are many reasons you may be getting MTSS. One primary reason is; increasing intensity or length of your workout too quickly. Another reason is you are running or walking on a surface you are not used to. Also a tight Achilles tendon, improper shoe wear (read how to choose the right running shoe blog post), weak ankle muscles, and weak core and hip stabilizers, are also culprits to the onset of MTSS. As you can see there are many different reasons you may have MTSS. So it is important to see your physical therapist to have them analyze your movements and workouts.
What to can I do about them right away?
A couple initial home treatments would include; icing (ice pack for 10-20 minutes 3 times per day) on your shins and resting. Not resting, like not doing anything, but resting, by changing your activity. Maybe change your workout to a lower impact exercise like swimming or biking a few days per week. Also, stretching out your Achilles tendon a few times per day for 30 seconds (picture shown to left), will help some of your symptoms caused by a tight Achilles tendon.
I always recommend including toe taps in your warm-up, this helps warm up those muscles which are directly associated with shin splints. With your legs hip distance apart, feet pointed directly forward x30, toes pointed out x30, and toes pointed in x30,
These will help those initial symptoms, but what I would highly recommend is seeing your physical therapist, if the problem is a mechanical one, meaning a strength deficit or a form problem, you will want to get that fixed right away. Otherwise after you rest and you start up again, most likely they will just come right back.
Have you had shin splints before? Have you ever used a “running stick” for them? What has worked for you?