What are Shin Splints?
Shin splints is a painful injury in the shin or lower front part of the leg. Medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), it is attributed to 15-30 percent of leg injuries among aggressive atheletes who are excessively using leg power including runners, jumpers, swimmers, cyclers, gymnasts etc. It is under the umbrella of overuse injuries.
It's also important to take note that not all lower leg injury are shin splints. Some of them can either be shin soreness or stress fracture. Shin splints also appears to be a commonly misunderstood term as people associate it with fracture or breaking of the bone. It's understandable though considering that it happens to the muscles attached to the bone, to the bone itself, or the way the muscle is attached to the bone, and it gets pretty difficult to distinguish where the pain is coming from. For the record, your bone is not broken. It just feels broken because something around it hurts.
The lower leg is composed of two bones and many interweaving muscles. The part affected by shin splints is the tibia and fibula, and the muscles around it. Tibia is the medial bone or bone inside the lower leg, while fibula is the lateral bone, or bone outside the lower leg.
Shin splints happen as legs are recurrently applied pressure on and thus, strain the lower leg's tibia and its surrounding muscles. The muscles often affected by shin splints are soleus, flexor, digitorum longus and deep crural fascia. The muscle slightly detaches from the bone and tendons are strained as the legs are pound on hard surfaces. It can also lead to flattening of a foot's arch, a painful condition known as over pronation or "flat feet", as well as supination.
When shin splints occur, it is normally always painful even if the legs are not used.
Unlike other injuries in which exercise can help, shin splints gets worse when applied even the tiniest stress, causing it to inflame and get even more painful. The best way to initially deal with it is to sit down and apply ice packs around in order to reduce inflammation and stop the straining.
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