Risk Factors for Shin Splints and IT Band Pain

As we move towards the middle of summer many runners have experienced an increase in overuse injuries in their legs.  Unfortunately, these running injuries are common among athletes with the vast majority of runners reporting one injury over the last year of training.  Two of the most common injuries include shin splints (medial tibial stress syndrome) and IT band pain.  Both of these injuries can be successfully treated with Physical Therapy, but also may be prevented by modifying known risk factors for the conditions.  

A review article identified the known risk factors for the development of medial tibial stress syndrome in runners (Newman et al. J Sports Med. 2013).  Authors reported prior history of medial tibial stress syndrome, increased body mass index, increased pronation, orthotic use, and fewer years of running experience are all associated with increased risk of these symptoms.

A second review article documented the known risk factors for iliotibial band pain (IT band pain) in runners.  Aderem and colleagues reviewed the available literature on the development of IT band pain from 13 research studies (BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2015).  They noted increased risk of IT band pain among runners with poor knee control at foot strike.  Increased movement of the knee is due to weakness and coordination in the hip musculature.  Overtime these abnormal movements create friction between the IT band and thigh bone at the knee.  Athletes are encouraged to work with a local Physical Therapist on gait retraining to improve knee control during running.