Shin Splints 1

Shin Splints

If you’ve ever had them, you’ll know that Shin Splints are a frustrating and painful condition. Also known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, shin splints can be extremely uncomfortable and disrupt training regimes. People who take part in high impact sports have the highest risk, but even walkers can develop shin splints, especially if they increase their speed or distance quickly. The good news is, it’s not a serious condition and can be alleviated with some simple physiotherapy and at-home treatments. 

Although shin splints are very common, the exact reason they occur is still unknown; however, many of the main risk factors are now well documented. In this article, we will look at the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of shin splints. 

What is a Shin Splint?

Shin splints are categorised by pain running along the shinbone, from knee to ankle; this can occur on either side of the tibia bone. The pain along the shin is due to damage and inflammation in the connective tissue that runs along the tibia. Pain is generally present in high impact or prolonged spouts of activity but can also be experienced when at rest.

Shin Splint Causes

Shin splints result when muscles, tendons, and bone tissue become overworked. Common causes for Shin Splints are: 

  • Muscle tightness; 
  • Biomechanical abnormalities such as Pronation (flat feet) or Supination (high arch); 
  • Poor/inadequate footwear or arch support;
  • Exercising without an appropriate warm-up/cool down; 
  • Weak ankles, hips, core muscles

Shin splints are usually caused by repeated or prolonged activity. This often occurs during excessive walking, running or jumping activities when insufficient training is involved; hence why they often occur in athletes who’ve recently intensified or changed their training routines. 

Shin Splint Symptoms

Pain and/or tenderness along the inner side of the shin are among the most common symptoms of shin splints. Muscle tightness may also be present and can increase if the injury is left unattended. Initially, the pain may only be present during activity, but as the injury progresses, pain may also start to be felt when resting. 

Shin Splint Treatment

Rest is the number one answer for getting rid of shin splints – this can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks depending on the severity of the injury. Gradual return to activity is recommended, only once the pain has subsided. Ice should be applied to the area after activity if pain is present. Heat should be applied to the calf muscle to reduce muscle tightness, and can also be used as a shin splint treatment at any time, whether the pain is present or not. Anti-inflammatory painkillers such as Ibuprofen will help manage pain while recovering.

An exercise program targeted at correcting your biomechanics should also be used to treat shin splints once the pain has reduced. Starting this program too soon may lead to further injury, and medical advice should be sought when starting an exercise recovery plan. Advice on the correct footwear should be sought out to avoid injury when returning to normal activity levels. You may also find some stretches for shin splints very helpful in recovery.

Prognosis

Shin splints may take a while to recover fully, but seeking advice from your physiotherapist and sticking to the recovery plan properly will prevent the injury reoccurring in the future. 

Think you might be suffering from Shin Splints? Book in now and talk to one of our Core Physiotherapists and get to the source of the issue, so you can get back to enjoying a pain-free life!