Since the weather has turned from grey gloomy skies of winter to the sunny blue skies of spring and summer, our desire to be outside and be active increases. Not to mention we are all trying to get ready for bathing suit season. Most of us put on our running shoes and hit the streets to burn those extra calories off, but how many of you have been put on hold because of shin splints?
Shin splints are a common aliments among runners. This conditions is usually associated with an abrupt change in activity level. Like most of us during the winter months our activity level decreases and we become more sedentary and then the weather changes along with our activity level. BANG the perfect environment for shin splints to develop.
Other common names for shin splints are soleus syndrome or tibial periostitis, but the proper medical terminology is medial tibial stress syndrome. As this name suggests, this condition involves the overload (stress) of the medial (inner border) part of the tibia (shin bone).
If the problem persists and does not resolve, it is recommended you seek an evaluation by a sports medicine professional to rule out other diagnoses such as a stress fracture, posterior tibial tendon disease, and exercise-induced exertional compartment syndrome.
The diagnosis is typically made by physical examination, with tenderness along the inside area of the leg. PlainX-rays usually do not show any changes. Advanced imaging, such as bone scan and MRI can sometimes be performed and help confirm the diagnosis, but is usually not necessary.
The mainstay of treatment is rest to allow the tibial bone to heal. Other treatments that may help include:
• Physical Therapy treatment
• Orthotics (specifically those with arch support)
• Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine
To help avoid shin splints, we recommend runners to be vigilant in allowing adequate time to increase training demands, as well as run in a properly-fitted, well-cushioned running shoe. Cross training is also another important aspect when allowing down time for the shins to heal. Elite Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy provides its runners with custom made orthotics to correct identified biomechanics that may be predisposing them to shin splints. We can help you keep on running and not let your shins slow you down.