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What are they?
Shin splints, also known as “tibial stress syndrome”, is a painful condition of the lower leg. The condition occurs as a result of increased tension of the shin muscles. Over time this irritates the connection of the muscles to the bone.
Who do they affect?
Shin splints is an extremely common condition, especially in athletes. It affects 41% of female and 34% of male of American high school athletes. In a recent study, the best predictor associated with the development of shin splints was higher weekly mileage and faster running times.
Pain usually occurs during or directly after load-bearing activity such as running. The pain is experienced either at the front or back of the shin (anterior or posterior tibial stress syndrome, respectively) and can also refer down the leg and into the foot.
There are a number of factors that can play a role in the development of shin splints:
- Recently starting or increasing the amount of running (or running related sports).
- Muscle imbalances or faulty movement patterns that place more stress on the muscles of the lower legs.
- Being overweight, as this places extra stress on the legs.
- Structural dysfunction such as flat feet as this may put more pressure on the lower legs.
- Nutrition – deficiencies in nutrients that are important for bone and muscle repair (such as protein, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and Vitamin K2) can predispose to tibial stress syndrome.
Successful treatment of shin splints usually involves a short period of rest from the aggravating activity, correcting muscle imbalances through manual therapy and exercise, and addressing any nutritional shortcomings.
If left unaddressed shin splints can progress to stress fractures. It is therefore very important to have the condition evaluated and treated promptly by an appropriate medical practitioner.
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