The Mysterious “Shin Splint”

When I first started running about 7 years ago, I experienced pain in my right shin, which got worse with use and exercise. Specifically, this is pain in the medial tibia, exacerbated by stress and use (running). I asked around about it, and it was explained to me like this: these are “shin splints,” which are tears in the tendon which connects the muscle to the bone, specifically the calf muscle to the bone around that area. I was told that it was caused because the tendons are not strong enough to support the stress put on by the new exercise of the muscle pushing and pulling on it. The only thing to do is to rest and let it heal. So that’s what I was told. I let it heal by doing alternative cardio exercises like elliptical machine (which uses way fewer calories than running and doesn’t strengthen many muscles, but if you employ techniques to make it more difficult, you can strengthen the gluts & thighs) and rowing machine. After the pain went ¬†away, I incorporated calf muscle-building exercise into my routine and never had a problem since. So that’s my anecdote.

What does the research say?

First of all the etiology (root biological cause) behind “medial tibial stress syndrome” is not known. So the story I was told, believed, and repeated, might not necessarily be true, but it is plausible. I found a pretty good review of risk factors (here). Continue reading