If you’re accustomed to doing any kind of high-impact activity for any duration of time (running or ballet, for example), you may have dealt with a problem known as shin splints. Shin splints feature sharp, sometimes debilitating pain in the front of the leg, felt along the bone. The pain occurs in the lower legs, somewhere between the knees and the ankles. The medical term for shin splints is medial tibial stress syndrome, or MTSS.
Shin splints are often the result of overuse and can often crop up after a change in the intensity, duration, or type of activity you’re doing. Runners over-training with hill sprints or switching from trails to pavement may experience shin splints, as an example.
Two main causes of shin splints
Preventing shin splints often comes down to basic care of your legs and feet. Supportive footwear is a critical element of preventing shin splints, by alleviating the pressure that a weak or overpronating arch puts on the lower leg. A good warm-up involving the legs is also essential, involving the full range of motion of the joints in the legs and feet. This prepares your muscles and joints for being used. As much as possible, avoid training on concrete and other extremely hard surfaces, and stop training immediately if you begin to feel pain in your shins.
Treatments for shin splints including anti-inflammatory pain medications like aspirin or ibuprofen, ice, and rest. Arch supports and neoprene or compression sleeves for calves are critical for keeping the lower body supported, which in turn prevents further injury and allows the body to heal itself. Special exercises and physical therapy can also be effective in treating shin splints.
If you’re experiencing shin splints, be sure to seek advice from your doctor.