Happy New Year!

It's a new year and new resolutions have been made! Mine is to run the Cooper River Bridge Run in April. The training has started and so has some pain in my lower leg. Many of us have experienced shin splints before but do we really know how to prevent them from happening?

Shin splints, medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), refers to pain in the shins - the front lower legs. It is an inflammatory condition of the front part of the tibia. The pain is brought on by strenuous activity, more commonly in stop-start sports such as squash, tennis or basketball. Running too much on hard surfaces is also a common cause of shin splints.

Exerting excessive pressure on the lower leg muscles or excessive impact on the muscle can the pain to develop.The main cause of shin splints is too much force on the shin bone and connective tissues that attach the bone to surrounding muscle. The excessive force is usually caused by:

  • Running downhill
  • Running on a slanted surfaces or uneven terrain
  • Running with inappropriate shoes, including proper shoes than have worn out
  • Taking part in sports that include bursts of speed and sudden stops

How can you avoid the pain?

  • Use proper fitting shoes with good support. Check out our friends at the FOOT STORE!
  • Make sure the insoles are shock-absorbing. If you have flat feet, good insoles are vital
  • Avoid hard surfaces, uneven terrain, or slanted slopes
  • Increase your intensity gradually
  • Make sure you warmed up properly before doing exercise

Finally, here are some quick exercises to help strengthen the muscles in the lower leg

Toe raises are a good starting point when looking to strengthen the shin muscles. Start with only a few repetitions and gradually increase the numbers.

  • The patient should be sat with both feet flat on the floor. 
  • Keeping the heel on the ground, the patient should lift the rest of the foot up as high as possible.
  • Hold for a couple of seconds before slowly returning the foot back to the floor
  • Repeat 10-20 times and increase to performing 2-3 sets.

To strengthen all of the lower leg muscles, perform calf raises. These can initially be performed both legs together before being progressed to single leg only.

  • Stand with the feet should width apart and knees straight. Make sure you have something to hold on to
  • Lift the heels off the floor as high as possible and slowly return to the floor.
  • Progress on to one foot only
  • This can be progressed even further by standing on a step with the heel off the back and lower the heel down past the level of the step.

Walking the length of a room either on the toes or on the heels will help to strengthen the calf and shin muscles respectively. Make sure you do this slowly and under complete control.

As always, we are here to help with any questions regarding shin splints or any other pains you may be feeling while training for your 1st or 10th run!

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