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  • Writer's pictureDr. Gregory Lowe PT, DPT, cert. MDT, CSCS

Dreaded Shin Splints: What Even Are They and What Should I Do???

This time of year as the weather gets nicer outside is one of the most common for people to develop shin irritation.


The term "shin splints" tends to be a catch all term people use when they're having any pain in their lower leg (similar to how people use the term "tennis elbow" for any elbow pain).


But, true shin splints (otherwise known in the medical community as "Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome") consist of pain on the front/inside of the shin that is present because of irritation to the tibia bone (the larger bone in the lower leg with a pointy front edge) from repetitive jarring or an over-pulling of the muscles that attach right onto this bone.


Most often shin splints occur with folks who are relatively new to running, a runner who changes training surfaces (switching from treadmill to outside on the roads), or a runner who recently had a large increase in volume/intensity (something that the muscles/bone just aren’t able to handle appropriately yet).


But, two of the underlying root causes of shin pain/irritation are the following: 

  1. Lack of proper ankle mobility

  2. Improper running form mechanics - typically people who take too big of a step (over-striding) or who bounce up/down excessively


Runners who lack the proper ankle mobility or run with improper form are not able to absorb the forces of running as well and cause more of a jarring force to be placed into their leg (with the shin bone often being the unfortunate recipient of the increased stress).


So, what should you do if you have current shin splints?


  1. Work with Dr. Greg!!!! - we have the plan and experience of helping thousands of clients get out of pain, stay out of pain, and AWAKEN their potential  

  2. Modify your training: you're likely going to need to decrease running intensity or distance…and potentially take a period of cross training  

  3. Work on improving your ankle mobility (typically from stretching the calf muscles and improving the gliding ability of your ankle joint)  

  4. Improve strength of the muscles on the front/back of the lower leg  

  5. Systematically add back training volume (likely using a walk-jog program)


And if you don't have current shin splints, what should you do to keep it that way???


  1. Add ankle mobility drills into your warm-up  

  2. Integrate calf foam rolling/stretching into your cool-down and recovery program  

  3. Work on improving foot/ankle strength and balance  

  4. Improve your running form through various drills


I will be the first to admit that determining your running form is very difficult to do on your own.


Even for skilled clinicians, picking up on slight form imbalances can be difficult without the proper equipment.


Which is why at AWAKEN, we use WNY's FIRST and ONLY 3-Dimensional Running Gait Analysis system!!


We place 18 reflective markers on our clients and our camera system uses the same Hollywood motion capture technology that they make video games and CGI special effects with!


How cool is that!?


But even cooler is that we can use the results of our running analysis to prescribe drills, exercises, and cues to help our runners DECREASE PAIN, DECREASE LIKELIHOOD OF FUTURE INJURY, and IMPROVE RUNNING EFFICIENCY!


If you've been struggling with a nagging pain/injury or you just have always wondered if your running form is actually ideal or not, the next step is to click the link below and get in touch with us.


You won't regret a thing!

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