Shin splints is a general term for pain along the shin and lower leg. There are two (2) types of shin splints: (1) anterior and (2) posterior. The most common is posterior shin splints, which is technically known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS). MTSS is an inflammation of the tibialis posterior muscle, which runs along the inside of the shin. The tibialis posterior controls pronation and is excessively stretched during overpronation. Anterior shin splints are an inflammation of the tibialis anterior muscle, which runs along the front of the shin and outside of it.
With each type of shin splint, a dull, diffuse pain is typically felt either during a run or after it. Many new runners will experience shin splints as they start to run, but this pain should go away after their body becomes accustomed to the stresses of running within a few days. If the pain either does not go away or becomes acute, then it is possible that shin splints may develop into a stress fracture. There are many ways to prevent shin splints from progressing into a stress fracture, and it is important to seek the advice of a medical professional sooner rather than later.
- Change in running surface, distance, or speed
- Flat arches / overpronation during walking / running (posterior shin splints)
- Improper footwear
- Improper progression of training such as sudden increases in activity
- Running in old shoes that are past their expected useful life (anterior shin splints)
- Tightness in the calf muscles and weakness in the anterior posterior muscle (anterior shin splints)
- Arch support through use of an insert for the shoe (over-the-counter, semi-custom, or custom)
- Calf and hamstring stretches
- Proper footwear
- Proper progression of running
- Rest / cross training to allow time for the inflammation to decrease
- Strengthening of the lower leg muscles
- Use of a compression sleeve during activity
- Use of ice pack