Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (AKA Shin Splints) is one of the most common running injuries. It affects many newbies, as well as seasoned runners. With 5K fun run & race season coming up quickly, here’s everything you need to know about shin splints, including prevention & what to do if you get them.
“Shin splints” is an over-use injury. The current hypothesis is that the pain comes from an inflammatory reaction due to repetitive micro trauma to the thin outer layer of connective tissue that lines the bone (the periostium) & the muscle body & tendons of the lower leg musculature. The primary muscles affected are the tibialis anterior & posterior.
This condition is common in those who are new to running & do not ease into their routine gradually enough. It can also happen to seasoned runners when they intensify or change their workout abruptly, i.e. increase milage or frequency, switch terrain, introduce incline, etc. Symptoms can also arise when athletes skip or short cut their warm up. Shin splints aren’t limited to runners; dancers, gymnasts & athletes that do a lot of repetitive high impact activity like basketball or soccer can also be affected.
The symptoms of shin splints include aching, throbbing, burning or sharp pain from knee to ankle during or after activity. The pain is most commonly on the inside of the shin bone. There may be some mild swelling as well as tenderness to the touch.
Predisposing factors to developing this condition include, flat feet, & over-pronation. These factors create altered biomechanics in the foot & ankle, which increases stress on the muscles of the leg & can affect the knees, hips or low back. Symptoms can also develop with the use of improper footwear.
To prevent shin splints always make sure to include a dynamic warm up pre workout & incorporate daily stretching exercises for the lower leg into your post workout routine. Wear the right footwear for your feet, gait & type activity. Many running stores will do a basic analysis to help you figure out what types of shoes will work best for you. Also, make sure to replace your shoes every 300-500 miles. When increasing your mileage or intensifying your routine make sure to do it gradually to allow your body time to adapt, a 10% mileage increase per week is ideal.
Now what if you already have shin splints? How do we fix it? A common recommendation is rest from high impact activity. Cross training can be supplemented in with activities such as swimming, cycling, or an elliptical. Ice or ice massage after activity can also help to reduce the pain and inflammation. Compression sleeves are commonly used by athletes to prevent swelling during activity. Another quick fix is to upgrade to more supportive footwear or you may need to get fitted for orthotics to correct your foot biomechanics.
Unfortunately for many die hard runners, this isn’t exactly what they want to hear. That’s where we come in!
What can chiropractic do for you?
In our office we have several tools to treat this condition & get you back on the road/trail/treadmill quicker. Your appointment begins with a thorough history & examination. A more serious condition such as a stress fracture or compartment syndrome needs to be ruled out first. Once a diagnosis is made we move on to develop a treatment plan for you based on your unique case, our clinical expertise & what the research says. This may include adjustments to the foot, ankle or knee, soft tissue treatments like Graston, nutritional recommendations, rehabilitative/strengthening exercises, home care instructions or, most likely, all of the above. Our goal is to get you feeling better fast, get you out of our office, back to your routine and teach you how to take care of yourself so that you don’t need us to.
If you or someone you know is experiencing this, or any other sports/fitness related injuries call our office to see how Lake Marion Chiropractic Center can help you!
-Dr. Cailin Shurson