What Are Shin Splints?
Shin splints (or medial tibial stress syndrome) is a name for pain or throbbing felt along your shin, anywhere from your knee to your ankle. The pain is caused by inflammation in the muscles, tendons and other tissues around your shinbone (tibia).
What Causes Shin Splints?
Shin splints are a form of repetitive strain injury. Repeated stress on your tibia and the connective tissues around it causes the muscles to swell and puts pressure on the bone, causing inflammation and pain.
- Are a woman
- Have flat feet (overpronation) which makes your ankle roll inwards too far
- Have tight calf muscles and poor flexibility
- Take part in sports that require sudden stops and starts such as soccer or downhill skiing
- Do a lot of exercise that wearies your muscles such as dancing.
What Are the Symptoms of Shin Splints?
If you have shin splints, you might feel various symptoms in your lower leg, including:
- A dull ache
- Pain during exercise
- Pain along the shin bone
- Pain along the muscles
- Numbness or weakness in your feet.
Types of Shin Splints
The two different types of shin splints depend on which muscles have become inflamed.
Posterior shin splints result from an inflammation of the tibialis posterior muscle, the one that runs along the inside of your shin. If you overpronate because you have flat feet, you’ll tend to stretch this muscle too far.
Anterior shin splints result from an inflammation of tibialis anterior muscle running along the front and outside of your shin.
8 Ways To Prevent Shin Splints
If you want to avoid shin splints, then try the following:
Choose well-fitting shoes that provide support and absorb shock.
If you have flat feet or overpronate, then you may benefit from orthotics to support your arches and correct your posture.
- Warming up and cooling down
Make sure you stretch thoroughly before and after your workouts so your muscles are able to ease in and out of exercise.
- Stronger ankles
Your ankle absorbs a lot of stress when you’re running or jumping. Ankle exercises help to strengthen the muscles around your ankle, enabling you to withstand stress rather than be injured by it.
- Stretch your calves
Gaining more flexibility in your calves helps protect your shins. You can stretch your calves by standing on a step and lowering your heels or by putting a towel under your foot and scrunching it between your toes.
- Stronger hip abductors and hip stability
Several studies show that runners with shin splints often have weak hip abductors and poor hip stability. These weaknesses affect your shins when you land and push off while running. Hip exercises can help to strengthen your hips and protect your shins.
- Build up slowly
Shin splints are an overuse injury. If you’ve been running for less than five years, you’re at greater risk of shin splints so, no matter how much you’re enjoying your new sport, it’s important to build up your endurance gradually and allow plenty of rest and recovery time in between.
- Run on softer surfaces
Are you always running on hard concrete? Try to mix it up with some runs on dirt trails, grassy meadows or even a treadmill (yes, it’s softer than concrete!).
How Can Physiotherapy Help With Shin Splints?
Our physiotherapists at The Brisbane Spine Clinic can help you prevent and manage shin splints. Physiotherapists are experts in the human body and its movements, meaning we can help you strengthen your ankles, calves and hips to prevent or relieve the pain in your shins. As part of your shin splints treatment, we can also identify and treat biomechanical problems such as overpronation to improve your posture. If you’re keen to avoid or get beyond throbbing, painful shins, then make an appointment today.