What Are Shin Splints?
Shin splints is the general term that is used to describe pain that occurs anywhere along the tibia between the ankle and knee. Athletes and sportspeople that run a lot are very susceptible to the many conditions that can be called “shin splints”.
Common symptoms associated with shin splints include discomfort along the length of the tibia, tightness in the muscles of the lower leg, overlying skin redness or inflammation and sometimes even tingling in the muscles. All of these symptoms can be felt during or after exercise.
The term medial shin splints refers to pain felt on the inner side of the tibia. Anterior shin splints is the term given to pain felt on the outer side of the shin and can be described as muscular tightness. It may actually be a more complex condition known as Anterior Compartment Syndrome.
What Causes Shin Splints
There are a number of reasons why shin splints can occur. Often these factors combine to cause shin splints.
- “Flat feet” or excessively pronated feet – shin muscles help to maintain the instep of the foot. Having flat or pronated feet can cause the shin muscles to be over-stretched and become inflamed.
- Incorrect running technique – poor running technique such as over-striding can contribute to increase stress forces travelling from the heel up into the ankle joint and then the tibia.
- Over-training or rapidly increasing the amount of running you do, can bring on shin splints very quickly.
- Hard surfaces – repetitive high impact activities (jumping or running) on hard surfaces increases the likelihood of tibial stress fractures, muscle injuries and even compartment syndromes.
- Incorrect footwear – running in excessively worn or the wrong type of shoes for your foot mechanics, body mass, activity, etc. can contribute to the development of shin splints.
Shin Splints Treatment
Firstly, you must get a diagnosis from a health professional such as a Sports Podiatrist as shin splints is merely a term that groups many different conditions into one term. Even with a correct diagnosis, treating shin splints can be difficult and prolonged.
Treatment is always based around reducing the pain, inflammation and activity, such as –
- Stop running and perform low impact activities to remain fit. Swimming, cycling, rowing, etc. are great options.
- Apply ice to affected areas for 15 -20 minutes for as much as 4 times a day, especially after activity.
- Take anti-inflammatory medication as recommended by a doctor.
- Sometimes a walking boot is indicated and should compartment pressure be elevated, surgery may be required.
- Have your foot mechanics & footwear assessed to see if they are a contributing factor – they play a major part in shin splints & sometimes changing shoes or orthotics can solve the problem.
At Orthotic Solutions Podiatry, our team of experienced Sports Podiatrists can assess your shoes and your running mechanics to give you an honest opinion on whether they are a factor.
Not everyone needs custom orthotics and we won’t waste your time or take your money if they won’t be beneficial for you. Watch this video for information about our orthotics and our practice policies.
However, if you do need custom orthotics, all review consultations are free for the first 12 months and the structural components of the orthotics are guaranteed to last more than 4 years.
The suburban Sydney podiatrists at Orthotic Solutions Podiatry are here to help you put your best foot forward and can set you on the path to recovery if you are suffering from shin splints. Call 1300 1 2 FEET to make an appointment or you can book online.