Beating Shin Splints

There are several things that can cause pain in the shin and several areas of the shin that can hurt. For the purpose of this post, I am going to be discussing pain on the inside portion of the shin.   The large bone in your lower leg is called the tibia.  It's the inner, lower two-thirds of this bone that tends to hurt with "typical" shin splints, aka Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome.  Go ahead, impress your friends with your new words. 

It is as the name implies.  Medial tibial stress syndrome occurs when the amount of stress to the medial tibia area (bone, muscles, tendons) is greater than the structures can handle.  It does not imply fracture. 

Who Gets Shin Splints?
One of the most common running injuries, shin splints tend to occur in those who run higher weekly milage at quicker paces.  Sorry ladies, but it's more common among females. One study found those with smaller lower leg circumference were significantly more likely to develop shin splints and stress fractures.  With every foot strike the tibia actually vibrates a little.  Having more muscle helps attenuate the vibration lessening the stress in the tibia.  

What Can I Do To Prevent Shine Splints? 
Lift something heavy!  Seriously though, muscle attenuates shock, and strength training develops muscle in a way running does not.  Additionally, strength training increases the density of our bones making us more resilient to shin splints and stress fractures.  

Make sure you are in the right shoes.  This seems obvious, but it's very important.  If you've been dealing with reocurring injuries, have tried every pill and potion, but still get hurt, it's time to get fitted for a fresh pair of kicks.  Go to a running specific store.  Charlotte, where we are proudly located, has a handful.  

I Think I Already Have It.  What Can I do?
If you currently have pain, it's important to get it checked by a professional to rule out anything serious.  A good doc will uncover things you may not have thought of on your own. 

In addition to , some good recommendations are as follows:

1.  Decrease weekly milage and pace

2.  Compression calf sleaves  

3.  Run on soft surfaces

4.  Ask your doctor about supplementing with vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and a protein shake.

5.  Avoid anti inflammatory drugs.  They significantly reduce tendon-to-bone healing.  

6.  Deep Tissue Laser Therapy.  Painless, safe, and effective for speeding tissue healing. Learn More. 

Since shin splints occur because the body cannot repair itself as quickly as it's being stressed, taking time off of running may be necessary.  Low impact forms of cross training like swimming and cycling are great for staying in shape while recovering.  

Rehab Drills
A key muscle that needs to be targetted when working through shin splints is the flexor digitorum longus. The video below shows an easy way to do that.  Perform 8 sets of 40 repetitions throughout the day. 

Another important muscle is the tibialis posterior.  Hit that one with the exercises below.  Perform 8 sets of 20 reps throughout the day. 

Sources:
Michaud, T.C. (2011) Human locomotion: The conservative management of gait-related disorders. Newton, MA: Newton Biomechanics.

Moen, M.H., Tol, J.L., Weir, A., Steunebrink, M. and De Winter, T.C. (2009) “Medial Tibial stress syndrome,” Sports Medicine, 39(7), pp. 523–546. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200939070-00002.

Cohen, D., Kawamura, S., Ehteshami, J. and Rodeo, S. (2005) “Indomethacin and celecoxib impair rotator cuff tendon-to-bone healing,” The American journal of sports medicine., 34(3), pp. 362–9.