Shin Splints

So many of us try from year to year try to get in shape for the warmer months, but for some of us we go too hard, too fast and this is normally the calling card for shin splints! You’ve probably heard of them but what actually are shin splints? Shin splints is a term used to describe pain and swelling in the front of the lower legs, often during or after exercise. Commonly it is known as Tibial Stress Syndrome (TSS). The most common form of shin splints being medial tibial stress syndrome commonly presents with vague, diffuse pain of the lower leg, along the lower third of the shin with physical activity. Pain presents worse at the beginning of exercise and gradually eases throughout training and within minutes of cessation of exercise. As the injury progresses, pain can present after far less activity and may occur at rest. If left untreated, shin splints can progress into stress fractures along the shinbone

What causes shin splints?

Shin splints are aggravated by repetitive stress to the shin from activities such as running or walking. Training errors contributing to overworking of muscles tend to be the most common risk factor, especially as we attempt to do ‘too much, too fast’. Other factors can include running on hard or uneven surfaces, having feet that ‘roll in or roll out’, muscular weakness or tightness, as well as wearing incorrect footwear.

How are shin splints treated?

The best outcomes for shin splints are achieved through early diagnosis and onset of treatment. It is important patients don’t avoid treatment or push through the pain, mainly due to injury progression and the risk of stress fractures. Treatment by a health professional can help you modify your activities and any mechanical issues through massage, stretching and conditioning, footwear changes and orthotic therapy. Pain should be treated at home by resting, icing, and compression. Assessing and treating the underlying cause is vital in addressing shin pain long-term. Lower-limb mechanics are often the culprit in developing shin splints, thus consulting a professional is recommended.