Shin splints is one of the most common running injuries and can affect both novice and experienced runners. Those new to running may be more likely to suffer a pain on the outside of the shin, known as Anterior Tibial Stress Syndrome, which most commonly involves pain from the tibialis anterior muscle on the front of the lower leg. More experienced runners may be more likely to suffer pain on the inside of the shin, known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (‘MTSS’). MTSS is commonly caused by pain from the posterior compartment in the back of the lower leg.
Ultimately both types of shin splints are the result of the lower-leg muscles not being able to cope with the demands being placed upon them, through increases in training intensity that are too great. Those new to running may find they fall in love with their new pursuit and want to keep pushing themselves, or they may be cramming in more training for their first race and do not have enough time to train with gradual increases.
As a general guide the ‘10% rule’ states that you shouldn’t increase speed or duration of run by more than 10% from one week to the next. Sticking to this guide means that the muscles have the opportunity to adapt to the increased loads and strengthen as needed. Shin splints is also a frustration because recovery takes several weeks even with the correct treatment. If you feel pain from shin splints during a run, you should stop as soon as possible as you will just worsen the aggravation. A break from running is then needed, during which time you can perform the stretches and exercises on the attached guide to quicken your recovery. A return to running can then be made, but you should expect to need further breaks and returns to your running schedule, until your muscles have got to the point where they can cope proficiently with the loads.
The following guide gives more detail around what the condition is, what causes it, and most importantly, how you can rid yourself of this annoying blight to runners’ training plans.