Medial tibial stress syndrome, or more commonly known as shin splints is an inflammation of the bone tissue surrounding a person’s tibia, the inner bone located between the ankle and the knee. Shin splints are a common problem among athletes and people who live an active lifestyle, as the condition typically develops after sudden changes in physical activity. People who get shin splints experience pain in the lower leg, and along the inner border of the tibia.
Causes Of Shin Splints
In general, shin splints are caused by excessive amounts of force on the shinbone, which causes swelling on the muscles. There are also other risk factors at work including inadequate stretching, weak shin muscles, overpronation of the ankle, and running on cambered roads. Shin splints typically affect a person’s dominant leg, so if you are left-handed, you are probably left-footed, and that makes your left leg more prone to the pain and inflammation associated with the leg injury.
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Stress reaction to bone fractures can also cause shin splints as the repeated pounding creates tiny cracks in the bones of the leg. If this is the main cause of your shin splint, it is best that you give the bones time to rest to allow the body to repair the cracks.
Symptoms and risk factors
Shin splints are a common leg injury that affects runners, military recruits, and people with flat feet. This leg injury is a common problem for people who often engage in different forms of physical activities. One instance that puts you at risk of developing the injury is when you increase the intensity or duration of your exercises too soon. Inactivity also plays a crucial role in the development of shin splints: your shinbone may hurt when you return to doing exercises after being sedentary for a while.
Symptoms of shin splints include:
- Pain felt along the shinbones
- Pain that gets worse with exercise
- Numbness on the feet
- In come cases, lumps felt along the affected area
Ways to prevent shin splints
You do not have to quit on doing exercises to prevent leg injuries such as shin splints. Here we discuss some of the ways you can lower your risk of getting shin splints:
Lessen the impact of running on your bones and muscles
One of the first things you can do to protect your leg from shin splints is to vary your running surfaces, and avoid running on hard surfaces. The reason being that running on solid surfaces such as roads and concrete can result in upper body and leg pain. This is due to the fact that concrete cannot absorb any of the shock when your feet strike the ground. As such, the vibration goes up to your legs at a greater intensity, and you feel pain on your shins.
Gradually increase your exercise
It is important to create a balanced routine rather than engaging in intense exercises that may be too much for your current fitness level. Start cautiously and progress slowly into moderate to high impact training as you build strength and endurance.
When to see an expert
Many people choose to treat shin splints using home remedies such as taking over-the-counter painkillers, and placing an ice pack on the affected area. But if the pain does not improve with these methods, it may be best to consult with your local physio who can give you a proper diagnosis and help you get relief from pain on the leg and ankle.
During your appointment with a physiotherapist, your unique condition will be assessed and you will receive instruction on some of the exercises you are allowed to engage in, as well as recommended programme of activity for your specific condition.