What are shin splints?
Also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splint is a term used to describe almost any below-the-knee leg pain or injury. This condition can affect one or both legs and is most often caused by overexertion and overuse. Too much, too soon! We see this a lot in beginner runners that do not gradually build up their endurance and just push through long fast runs. This means muscle overuse and injuries. However, this does not mean that advanced or marathon runners are immune to shin splints. Drastically changing their normal running routine suddenly (more mileage, running on different terrain, adding hills, etc.) can also cause shin splints. It may also be exacerbated by an underlying biomechanical issue like over-pronation (where the foot flattens too much) or a lack of it. If a runner experiences shin splint, they should immediately stop running and use icepack to bring down inflammation. The key is to gradually build up stamina and your body will tell you when it’s ready for more.
How are shin splints treated?
Short term treatment of shin splints usually involves resting, icing and stretching. Cold laser or ultrasound treatments may also provide extra relief. When the leg(s) start to heal and you choose to start running again, the leg can be taped or wrapped to prevent overuse. This hold everything together and reduces stress while you continue to heal. Healing may take 4-6 weeks. Long term treatment of shin splints almost always includes custom made orthotics because underlying biomechanical issues could be contributing to the shin splints.