Medial tibial stress syndrome, commonly referred to as shin splints, is very common among beginning runners and walkers. Those affected typically complain of an ache along and just behind the front surface of the shinbone. The pain usually occurs when you first start to run or walk and may subside as you continue to exercise. There may be a localized tenderness to the touch as well as some swelling. In contrast to a stress fracture that is very localized, shin splints tend to be fairly diffuse, covering several inches on the front of the shin.
Causes: Shin splints are typically caused by training errors, such as doing too much speed work or hill work too soon or increasing mileage too quickly. Also to blame may be tight calf muscles, biomechanical faults like excessive pronation or worn-out or improper shoes.
Solution: To ease the pain of shin splints, stretch, massage and foam-roll your calf muscles several times per day. Decrease your mileage and your hill and speed work, assess your shoes for wear and replace them if needed and ice your shins several times per day. Finally, strengthen the tibialis anterior muscle — the muscle that lies directly beside your shin — with toe raises. To do this, raise your toes as high as they will go while keeping your heels on the ground (you will feel the tibialis anterior muscle start to burn). Do several sets of these (until it really starts to burn) throughout the day.
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