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  • V. Chang

Common case: Shin splints

We hear shin splints so often, especially among experienced runners and athletes, but for the new or inexperienced runners, we have no idea what it is until we get it.

Shin splints have become an umbrella term for any kind of pain or tightness in the calves, whether they are in the front, back or deep within the calves. The reason is that they are all treated the same.

The condition is known as the medial tibialis stress syndrome (MTSS), and it is an inflammation of the soft tissues and/or bone tissue around the shin bone (tibia).

Why do they occur? The condition is caused by overexercising, which stresses the muscles and tendons. Generally it is due to drastic changes in the training, such as increasing the duration or intensity or the number of days you exercise per week.

It can also be caused by flat feet or very rigid arches, and inadequate footwear.

What are the symptoms? Pain along the shin bone during and after a workout. The intensity can range from sharp to dull, and it will hurt if the area is being touched.

How is it diagnosed? Having a doctor examining the area is very crucial for determining whether you have shin splints or not because there are other cases that causes similar symptoms, such as a stress fracture in the tibia, tendinitis, or chronic exertional compartment syndrome.

How is it treated? First and foremost, take it easy! Shin splints occur because the muscles and tendons in the area are being overworked. Avoid any kind of exercise that aggravates or worsen the pain until the condition goes away.

Ice - apply cold therapy to the area few times a day in 20 minute sessions.

Compression or massage - a compression bandage may reduce swelling and massaging the area with a topical cream can relieve the tightness in the muscles and tendons.

Foot support - orthotics or shoes with good cushioning can help alleviate the symptoms by minimizing the stress and stabilizing the foot.

You may return to exercise at a lower intensity after the symptoms have gone away, but remember to slowly increase the training and properly warm up before any exercise.

How to prevent it? There are a few tips to prevent this condition from occuring:

1. Proper shoes - it's an obvious one, but very important. There is no all-purpose shoe out there in the world since different activities requires different cushioning and shoe grip. If you run in indoor-court shoes, it's very likely that you will experience shin splints. Similar if you use running shoes to play racquet sports, you will most likely slip.

2. Gradual progress - take things slow! Allow the muscles and tendons to get used to the training!

3. Alternate between sports - switch between low-intensity/impact and high-intensity/impact sports to allow the legs to recover and still maintain your fitness level!

Have a question? Or you want to book for an assessment? Feel free to call us to today!

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