Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome may sound like the end of the world, but don’t sweat just yet! This is just the medical term for what is commonly known as “shin splints”. Shin splints can happen at every level of play, from backyard to stadium, and with proper rest, stretching, and adjustments to your soccer warm up, work-out and training regimens can get you back on the field in even better condition than before.
“Acute” vs “Non-Acute”
Shin splints can be thought of as having two phases, “acute” and “non-acute”. If you’re reading this, odds are you are not in the “acute” phase of injury; this refers to the immediate time following the injury during which your coach and teammates likely took care of you. After the acute phase you should see a doctor to learn if they have any specific recommendations for you. Many doctors recommend “rest”; however, it’s worth it to clarify with your doctor to make sure what they mean. Sometimes it may mean no strenuous activity whatsoever, but you may be able to do some low-impact exercise to keep your health up while you heal.
Starting Your Workouts Again
For mild cases, it is sometimes considered appropriate to start out at 50% of your usual workout regimen and slowly work your way back up. This helps you identify what aspect of your workouts may be causing you the most stress. Avoid running on extra firm ground, uneven terrain, or in hilly areas. Check and see if it’s a good time to invest in updated soccer equipment that provides better shock absorption. Running shoes should be changed every 250-500 miles, depending on wear and weather, and over time the loss of shock absorption can worsen shin splints.
If your shin splints are particularly bad, you may want to see a physical therapist. Physical therapists use a variety of specialized tools like balance boards and massage, in order to make sure your legs heal properly. Shin splints are likely candidates for re-injury, so take care to stick to appropriate training regiments to prevent repeated damage. Consistently wear any recommended braces and splints, as ordered, for as long as ordered. With all of these tools at your disposal, you’ll be throwing on your Diadora soccer jersey in no time and playing better than ever.