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Shin Splints

What are Shin Splints?

  • "Shin splints" is a term generally used to describe a running-related injury causing pain in the front of the lower leg along the shin bone (tibia).
  • Medically, the term shin splints refers to Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS).
  • The type of pain that causes shin splints is most often caused by athletic-related activity that the participant is not physically prepared to perform.

Shin Splints Causes

  • MTSS may have many different causes:
    • Overuse,
    • poor biomechanical alignment,
    • stress fractures,
    • muscle strains,
    • anterior compartment syndromes, or
    • muscle tightness.
  • The most common cause of shin splints is overuse, in which the soft and the hard tissues of the body are stressed and re-stressed to the point that damage occurs in the tissues.
    • This type of damage is known as repetitive micro-trauma.
    • Factors that may contribute to this injury include running on uneven surfaces, running on surfaces that are too hard or too soft, shoes that have poor force absorption qualities, participating in running or other athletic activities requiring frequent starts and stops, and going too hard or too long during repeated exercise bouts.
    • Running, walking, bicycle riding, and even standing in place for long periods can contribute to MTSS.
  • Biomechanics is the study of how living creatures move. A trip to the nearest mall to watch people move reveals that everyone moves differently. Sometimes these differences are great enough to cause an injury.
  • Weakness of leg muscles, shoes with poor support, poor foot alignment, tight muscles, loose ligaments in the foot, feet turned too far in (flat feet) or too far out may cause variances in mechanical function that may cause MTSS.
  • Whether or not these conditions are the cause of MTSS can be determined by a medical practitioner familiar with the biomechanical function of the human body.
  • MTSS may be an early warning sign of a stress fracture or anterior compartment syndromes, as well as be a secondary symptom of muscle strains or tightness.
Last Reviewed 11/20/2017

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