If you're an avid runner or athlete, you're no stranger to the world of sports injuries. The frustration of yet another obstacle that sits between you and your goals can be detrimental to your physical progress or mental well-being. Shin splints are one of the most common running injuries to experience, mostly due to the high-impact nature of the sport. However; shin splints are easily managed and treated, so you can get back on the trail, road, or path comfortably and in high spirits.
What Are Shin Splints?
Shin splints, medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome, refer to the inflammation and pain that occur along the inner edge of the shinbone. They commonly affect runners, dancers, and individuals who engage in high-impact activities. Shin splints can be classified into two types: anterior shin splints, which affect the front portion of the lower leg, and posterior shin splints, which affect the inner part of the leg.
Why Do My Shins Hurt After Running?
Shin pain after running can be attributed to various factors. The most common cause is overuse or excessive stress placed on the shinbone (tibia) and the surrounding muscles, tendons, and tissues. This repetitive stress can lead to inflammation and microtears in the affected area, resulting in shin pain.
What Are the Symptoms of Shin Splints?
Recognizing the symptoms of shin splints is crucial for early intervention. Common signs and symptoms include:
Pain and tenderness along the inner edge of the shinbone.
Mild swelling in the lower leg.
Dull or sharp pain during exercise that subsides with rest.
Pain that worsens with increased activity or impact.
Muscle weakness or tightness in the calf muscles.
How Do I Prevent Shin Splints?
Preventing shin splints involves a combination of proper training techniques, appropriate footwear, and mindful self-care. Here are some effective strategies to help you prevent shin splints:
Gradually increase training intensity and duration to allow your body to adapt.
Maintain proper running form and technique.
Wear shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning for your foot type.
Incorporate strength and flexibility exercises, focusing on the lower leg muscles.
Cross-train to reduce repetitive stress on the shins.
Warm up before running and cool down afterward, including stretching exercises.
Listen to your body and take rest days when needed to avoid overuse injuries.
What If My Shin Splints Don't Go Away?
If your shin splints persist despite preventive measures, it's time to consider professional intervention. Two effective options for treating stubborn shin splints are custom orthotics and physical therapy.
Custom-made shoe inserts, known as orthotics, can help correct any biomechanical imbalances or structural issues that contribute to shin splints. These orthotics are designed to provide optimal arch support, cushioning, and shock absorption, reducing stress on the shins during physical activity.
A skilled physical therapist can assess your condition, identify contributing factors, and develop a personalized treatment plan. Physical therapy for shin splints may include exercises to improve flexibility, strengthen muscles, and correct gait abnormalities. Therapists may also utilize techniques like manual therapy, massage, and taping to alleviate pain and promote healing.
Shin splints can be a frustrating setback for runners and athletes, but with the right preventive measures, they can be managed effectively. By gradually increasing training intensity, wearing appropriate footwear, and implementing strength and flexibility exercises, you can reduce the risk of shin splints occurring.
Interested in Physical Therapy?
Here at Rehab United Seattle, we care about our patients; we want to see you thrive and get back to the things you love. From the front desk to the physical therapists, our staff is full of wonderful and empathetic people dedicated to giving you the best care possible. We will support you throughout your entire recovery journey, don't wait, schedule today!
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Ariela Liberman is a Marketing Associate and a staff writer for Rehab United, with a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies. Born and raised in San Diego, she is a Southern California native with a passion for writing, digital marketing, health, and wellness.
Arturo Valle, PT, DPT, FAFS, CSCS, STMT-1, BFR-1, CCI, is a Physical Therapist, Clinic Director of Rehab United in Escondido, and Director of Rehab United’s Quality Assurance Program. As a graduate of USC’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, Dr. Valle has always emphasized the implementation of Evidence-Based Practice into all plans of care. Throughout his 12 years of experience, Dr. Valle has treated thousands of orthopedic-related and sports injuries and mentored countless Physical Therapists and Students of Physical Therapy.