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What are Shin Splints?

What are Shin Splints?

What are shin splints is a question that I get asked often.  Shin splints commonly refers to the pain in the front interior of your lower legs.  The medical term for shin splints is Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS).  Shin splints are usually know as an overuse injury.  If you feel a throbbing in your shins during and/or after your workouts, you most likely are experiencing shin splints.  If you let the shin splints go untreated you can inflame the shin splint symptoms and it can really ruin your training and racing.

Shin Splints Symptoms

Shin splints symptoms can be described as the pain and/or discomfort that is felt in your front interior of your lower legs.  This pain can be felt when you start to exercise, or might exist even after you have finished your workout.  For me I can feel a dull pain when I am not running, but once I start and get warmed up it can go away.  And for others the pain might always be there.

Shin splints symptoms can also cause moderate swelling in your lower leg.  This area can also become inflamed and sore.  You may also experience a weakness in your lower leg that is affected.  If left untreated the shin splint pain can become so intense that it can cause you to stop working out completely.

Shin splints symptoms can only be properly diagnosed by your doctor with a thorough physical examination.  When my shin splints were at their worst, my doctor also took x-rays to rule out any bone fractures.

What Causes Shin Splints?

Shin Splint Pain

What causes shin splints is generally to much force being exerted on the tibia where the muscles connective tissue is attached. Causes of shin splints are mostly from overuse, such as: the forces of running downhill, running with improper form, ramping up your training to fast, sports that involve sudden bursts of speed and fast stops, just to name a few.  For the most part I have been able to keep my shin splints under control. Last year I ramped up to fast and did a few 100 mile weeks way too soon and paid the price.

Shin Splints Treatment

Shin splints treatment usually has the same general components: massage, acupuncture, icing, oral anti-inflammatory, topical treatments such as Arnica, physical therapy, shin splint stretches, and the hardest of them all – rest.  My shin splints treatment really took a turn for the better once I hired a running coach and started running with proper form.  The other shin splints treatments that I use are: Icing, acupuncture, shin splint stretches, massage, self-massage, and stretching.

Preventing Shin Splints

Preventing shin splints is not as hard as you might think.  Preventing shin splints takes some knowledge of the causes and symptoms and then applying some of the above shin splint treatments.  Here are some easy things that you can do:

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