Are you an active runner who experiences pain in their shins? If so, you may be experiencing “shin splints,” otherwise known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome. This is an overuse injury common in running and sports that involves significant running. Tenderness is usually experienced on the front of the shin (tibia) and is exacerbated pain upon activities that involve running.  The most common cause of shin splints is inflammation of the fascia in front of your shin bone. If shin splints persist for a long period of time, they may progress to a stress fracture.  If there is concern for a stress fracture, your doctor may order an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis.

Shin splints can be caused by overuse (too much running), poor running technique (heel-striking or over-pronating), poor equipment (worn-out running shoes), or running on an uneven surface (side-sloped roads, sand, snow).  The most reliable way of preventing shin splints is to avoid any of these causes.

If you get shin splints, they can be treated by general rest, ice, and reduction in running distance (often runners have to take a few days off and then gradually increase distance).   If they continue to be a problem, you may need to consider physical therapy to strengthen the muscles in the front part of your leg and improve your running technique (prevent heel-striking and pronating).  Running shoes with more cushioning may also be effective.  

Photo credit: Phil Roeder