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What do shin splits feel like?

Shin splints (also known as medial tibial stress syndrome) is an inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around the shin bone (tibia). The term "shin splints" has been controversial and there has been a lot of confusion over the past 40 years as it has been used to refer to a wide variety of exercise-induced lower leg conditions.

Given the lack of accurate diagnosis over the last few decades, the exact incidence of exercise-induced shin pain among people is challenging to determine. It accounts for an estimated 10% to 20% of all injuries among runners and up to 60% of all overuse injuries of the lower leg. As shin pain is common among active persons, it is important for health professionals to differentiate the symptoms, causes, and provide directed management options.

Products to reduce shin splint pain

Symptoms

If one has shin splints; tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner side of the shinbone may be noticeable, as well as mild swelling in the lower leg.

People with shin splints will also experience some of the following symptoms:

  • A dull ache in the front part of the lower leg.
  • Pain that develops during exercise.
  • Pain on either side of the shin bone.
  • Numbness and weakness in the feet.

Causes

Shin splints can usually result from:

  • Flat feet - when the impact of a step makes one’s foot arch collapse (also called over-pronation).
  • Footwear - shoes that don’t fit well or provide adequate support.
  • Musculature - weak ankles, hips, or core muscles.
  • Overloading - Doing too much too soon or without the right build-up training.

To prevent overloading you should follow a structured strength and running program. We have designed a free 10-week build up to running program to help you maximise your running and reduce the likely hood of shin splints.

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How to treat shin splints

References

1. Couture, C. J. & Karlson, K. A. (2002). Tibial stress injuries: decisive diagnosis and treatment of ‘shin splints’. The Physician and sportsmedicine, 30(6), 29-36.

2. Schulze, C., Finze, S., Bader, R. & Lison, A. (2014). Treatment of medial tibial stress syndrome according to the fascial distortion model: a prospective case control study. The Scientific World Journal, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/790626

3. Kahanov, L., Eberman, L. E., Games, K. E., & Wasik, M. (2015). Diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of stress fractures in the lower extremity in runners. Open access journal of sports medicine, 6, 87.

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