Shin splints are a common problem for people who are physically active or adapting to a new exercise routine. In technical-speak, shin splints are sometimes referred to as medial tibial stress syndrome or MTSS.
The technical name for shin splints simply refers to the area of injury—the tibia, which is the largest and strongest bone in your lower leg. Your tibia, or shinbone, plays a pivotal role in keeping the body safe and sturdy during exercise; it also bears the brunt of your body weight, making it especially vulnerable to injury.
Unfortunately, shin splints are frequently found in runners. They may occur if you:
- Are a novice whose body hasn’t yet adjusted to the rigors of running
- Are an experienced athlete increasing the duration or intensity of a program
- Suffer any foot abnormalities or defects, such as unusually high arches
Shin splints also affect dancers, military recruits, and other people who demand their body’s peak performance.
Oftentimes, we don’t know we’re at risk for shin splints until we feel them. The signature symptom of MTTS is a noticeable, sharp pain that accompanies any sort of vigorous physical activity—especially running, jogging, or anything else that places strain on your lower legs. You may also notice that the inner side of your lower leg is sore or tender.
Get Help From Your Podiatrist to Avoid Further Injury
Whether you’re a dedicated runner or an enthusiastic beginner, you may wonder if you can outmaneuver shin splints. Unfortunately, shin splints aren’t a problem you can jog off. Continuing to run, dance, or jump with shin splints isn’t a good idea and may serve to aggravate the injury. If you think you have shin splints, consider taking some time away from the track. An ice pack, some rest, and over-the-counter medication may be all you need to get back to normal.
If your shin splints are particularly painful—or worse, recurring—then you should consider what physical or external factors are contributing to the condition. You may need shoes with better arch support; you could also have a tendon injury or fracture. A podiatrist can help you identify the cause of your shin splints as well as potential remedies. If your at-home treatments aren’t working, or if you’ve suffered shin splints more than once in the recent past, you should seek expert guidance.
In the meantime, it’s best to give your legs a rest—as tempting as it may be to sweat away the pain, shin splints demand you give your body a little rest and relaxation.