Although every runner may not have encountered shin splints, nearly every runner is aware of them. They rank among the most common running injuries. So what are they, how can you prevent them, and what should you do if you suspect you have shin splints?
Shin splints, also known as medial tibia stress syndrome, can be quite painful for runners, and can often place them out of training for extended periods of time depending on the severity. This injury will often occur as a result of ramping up a training program too quickly, but they can also occur any time an above normal amount of stress is placed on your tibia, such as running on an uneven terrain, downhill, or in shoes that have been worn out/are not a proper fit.
Good running form and proper equipment will help reduce a number of running injuries. Beyond this, it is also important to increase your training program at a rate you can handle. The generally accepted rule is to not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% of the previous weeks mileage.
If you suspect that you have shin splints, it is best to take some time off to rest until you feel you have fully recovered. Should the pain persist, a visit to the doctor would be advised. A more serious injury, such as a stress fracture, could be the cause of your injury and a doctor would be able to rule this out with an exam.
Luckily, there is an enormous amount of information that can be found online with a simple search for shin splints or medial tibia stress syndrome. However, as with any injury, it is always best to speak with your physician before modifying your currently approved training plan or treating an injury. When in doubt, let your body recover, as there’s no sense in trying to train when you’re not feeling well. This will likely force you away from training even longer, if and when the injury worsens.