Shin splints are also known as medial tibial stress syndrome. They are characterized by pain that occurs along or behind the shinbone. Shin splints are most often a result of overused and swollen muscles. The most common symptoms are pain or tenderness on the front of the lower legs, which is also known as the tibia. It is common for people who are involved in vigorous sports that put pressure on the shins like running, soccer, tennis, or dancing to develop shin splints. Shin splints are the cause of about 13 percent of all injuries in runners.
The signs and symptoms of shin splints include tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner part of the lower leg or mild swelling in the lower leg. The pain may not be felt initially when a person stops running or exercising. However, the pain usually appears sooner or later and often is persistent.
What causes shin splints? Shin splints are caused by stress that is repeatedly placed on the bone of the shin (also known as the tibia), and the connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone. You are at a higher risk for developing shin splints if you are a runner (especially when just starting out), you play sports on hard surfaces and involve sudden stops and starts, you run on uneven terrain (such as hills), you are involved in military training, or you have flat feet or high arches.
Treatment for shin splints varies depending on how severe the condition is for a person. Most of the time, shin splints can be treated at home with rest and other self-care treatments. It usually takes a few weeks for shin splints to completely heal. Shin splints can be relieved or treated at home by doing some of the following self-care activities such as icing your shin for about 15 to 20 minutes for a few days, taking a break from the activity that caused the shin splints, elevating the shin at night, using an over-the-counter pain reliever, wearing good shoes or possibly arch supports.
Tips to prevent shin splints:
· When training for a sport, cross-train with a sport that places less impact on your shins (i.e. swimming, walking or biking). Start slow and increase time/intensity gradually.
· Add strength training to your workout.
· Consider arch supports; these can help prevent the pain of shin splints, especially if you have flat arches.
· Wear the right footwear for the sport you play.