The Scourge of Shin Splints

By Henry Wong

Hit the ground running did you? It’s high school track and field season and many runners are probably familiar with shin splints. But what exactly are these infuriating lower leg pains?

Medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), more commonly known as shin splints, are often caused by using your legs to do more than they can handle. Other common causes range from overpronation (excess tilt of the foot) to running on hills as opposed to flat ground which one may not normally be used to.

What’s the cure? Unfortunately, the best option is to stop running completely. Icing your shins can be useful in reducing inflammation. Stretching is also essential in the healing process. If you simply cannot stop running, cross-training is another option. Any low impact exercises like swimming and biking will keep you in shape without worsening the damage to your shins.

Just because your shins hurt does not necessarily mean you have shin splints. Shin pain is often confusing as it could be one of many things. Stress fractures, or incomplete cracks in the bone, are far more serious than shin splints. To diagnose this, a bone scan is the best option. Shin pain could also mean compartment syndrome which is a swelling of muscles, so much so that it creates pressure. To avoid even getting shin splints in the first place, gradually increase your amount of running over time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and so it is with record-breaking results in running.

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