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What are Shin Splints?

Man in running clothes holding his shin for a blog post about shin splints.

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome or shin splints is the inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around the Tibia, the large lower leg bone.

It’s a common issue for people who have changed their routines or pushed a little bit harder during training, started an exercise regimen, recently changed jobs or someone with flat feet or very high arches.

Pain occurs where the muscle attaches to the bone, usually on the inner side of the bone although on rare occasions, it can occur on the outer side of the bone.

Shin splints happen when there is repetitive stress on the shinbone and tissue that attaches the muscle to the bone.

Running is one of the largest reasons for this condition, however, someone that walks a lot or walks/runs on uneven terrain, hard surfaces, hills, and concrete are at risk of developing this condition as well.

The associated pain usually begins during exercise and if left untreated, can be present during normal everyday activities like walking and in some severe cases, when standing.

If you are thinking of beginning an exercise program or would like to increase your running and want to prevent shin splints, there are many things to do, including choosing the right shoe and making sure that you have the appropriate arch support for your feet.

It is a good idea to have someone analyze your running form to make sure there is no compensation that may lead to stress that’s placed on the front of your lower leg.

It is recommended to slowly build your training so your body does not get overloaded. Here are a couple of ideas to consider:

  • Add cross-training to your program with less intense activities like cycling and swimming.
  • Add strength training to your program to build the strength of the hips, knees, and ankle to prepare your legs for the higher intensity activities.
  • Add in the appropriate stretches to help lengthen the muscles in your lower legs.

If you already have shin splints and are seeking treatment, talk with a Physical Therapist to analyze your walking and or running form to determine the root cause of the compensation.

Treatment can include:

  • Rest from the activity
  • Participation in low-impact activities until the pain subsides
  • Stretching of the shin and calf muscles
  • Applying ice and massage to reduce inflammation
  • Taping techniques

Depending on what the Physical Therapist finds in your evaluation, they may begin a strengthening program for the other muscles in the lower legs and core to prevent reoccurrence of the pain when you resume running.

Morgan Shepler PT, DPT graduated from Penn State University with her PTA degree and decided that she wanted to go on to become a PT. She then graduated from St. Francis University in 2012. She began working in an outpatient setting seeing patients of various diagnosis; CVA, TBI, SCI, pediatrics, orthopedics, sports injuries, generalized weakness. She also received experience in inpatient rehab and acute care patients. During this time, she began working in Home Health and caring for patients that were unable to leave their homes both temporarily and permanently. She began the Parkinson’s Support Group in the last town she worked in and grew that group for many years prior to coming to Phoenix Physical Therapy in 2017 where she started out as a Staff PT. Since working in Brookville, she started a Parkinson’s Disease Support Group here and it continues to grow.

Morgan looks forward to many more years with the company and continuing to treat patients with the values and fundamentals of this company.