Shin splints is a general term for pain along the shin and lower leg. There are two types of “shin splints,” anterior and posterior. The most common is posterior, which is technically referred to as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). MTSS is an inflammation of the tibialis posterior muscle that runs along the inside of the shin. Anterior shin splints are an inflammation of the tibialis anterior muscle which runs along the front and outside of the shin.
With both types of shin splints, a dull, diffuse pain is typically felt during or after a run. Many new runners will experience shin splints as they start to run, but this pain should go away after their body gets used to the stresses of running after a few days. If the pain does not go away or becomes more constant or sharp, it is possible that shin splints can develop into a stress fracture. There are many ways to prevent shin splints from progressing and it is important to seek advice early rather than let the pain get worse.
- Improper progression of training
- Change in running surface
- Flat arches or overpronation during walking / running (posterior shin splints)
- Improper footwear
- Running in old shoes that are past their life
- Rest / cross training to allow the inflammation to go down
- Stretching of the calf & hamstring muscles
- Strengthening of the lower leg muscles
- Proper footwear
- Arch support through use of an insert
- Use of a compression sleeve during activity
- Proper progression of running
- In severe or chronic cases, custom orthotics are indicated