Shin Splints

Kate Dastur

What are shin splints?

A shin splint is a pain along the tibia, or shin bone, in your leg. This pain is usually at the front outside part of the lower leg, but can also occur in the foot and ankle (anterior shin splints) or where the bone meets the calf muscles at the inner edge of the bone (medial shin splints).
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Shin splints are made up of two components: muscle and bone.

The muscles that connect the ankle are covered by the fascia which holds muscles together. It is tough and inelastic. The muscles expand during physical exercise, causing pressure which results in pain. The scientific term for this is exertional compartment syndrome and is found mostly in athletes who play field sports or run on hard surfaces.

The bones in the lower leg are susceptible to stress reaction and fractures. When the bones are subject to the constant pounding that they endure during running they begin to develop microscopic cracks. However, if left untreated, these small cracks can turn into stress fractures.

Causes of shin splints:

Shin splints are common with runners and even more-so when the runner runs on hard surfaces. When you forget to warm up or stretch, engage in improper running techniques, wear running in shoes that lack proper support, or have “flat feet” you are at a higher risk for developing shin splints.
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How to prevent shin splints:

  • Stretch! Before you run or engage in any kind of physical activity that is hard on your lower legs and feet, try these stretches to warm up:
  • Massage with ice! Massage ice with pressure along the inside of the shin bone for 10-15 minutes after running to reduce inflammation.
  • Add arch support to your shoes! By lifting the arch of your foot with insoles, less pressure will be directed towards your lower leg.
  • Take a break! Work out in intervals instead of a continuously and use your breaks to stretch and rest your legs.