Shin splints is a general term used to describe exercise-induced pain in the front of the lower legs, or shins. The medical term is Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS).
The shin pain can be felt during or after activity, particularly running, or sports with sudden stops and starts, such as football, basketball and tennis. The pain is felt along the shin bone (tibia), which runs down the inner part of your shin. At first it can bel a dull, aching pain. If ignored and exercise continued, it can become very painful and you may have to stop exercising altogether.
It’s really important not to “run through the pain” because shin pain could be a sign of an injury to the bone and surrounding tissues in your leg. Continued force on your legs will make the injury and your pain worse and prolong the recovery process.
Shin splints have a number of different causes and listed below are some common risk factors:
- Have increased your exercise levels or are just starting to exercise
- Sport on hard surfaces or slopes
- Wear poorly fitting or worn-out trainers that don’t cushion and support your feet properly
- Being overweight places extra stress on your legs and other joints around the body
- Have an arch disorder or your feet roll inwards, as this puts more pressure on your lower legs
- Have weak ankles or a tight Achilles tendon (the band of tissue connecting the heel bone to the calf muscle)
- Have tight calf muscles
- Eating sugary and fatty foods is thought to increase the levels of inflammation in the body
You should stop the activity causing your shin splints for at least two weeks. After this time, the pain in your shins should begin to decrease and you can gradually resume the activity. At David Brown Podiatry, we aim to reduce the inflammation and treat the actual cause of the pain. If the cause of the pain is not addressed then it is likely that the pain will reappear in future. A common cause of this pain may be flat feet (fallen arches), high arched feet and/or heels that are misaligned. An orthotic insole may be necessary to address these issues. In these situations a biomechanical assessment is advised to pin point any structural improvements that need to be made and to find the right orthotic to suit your needs. We have a wide range of custom made insoles that can be made and fitted to your footwear on the day of your assessment.
Other typical treatments:
- Ice therapy as often as required but usually 2-3 x per day for 10-15 mins
- Active rest ie: reducing impact sports while in pain and doing cycling, swimming or other low impact sports
- Training modification – altering the sport, intensity levels or playing surface can help
- Strappings or Kinesiology taping
- Footwear advice – a neutral shoe is recommended (sole that runs parallel to the ground viewed from behind). If a correction to the foot is required, a bespoke orthotic insole can be specifically designed for your needs.
- Lifestyle modifications- dietary changes that can reduce inflammation in the body.
- Stretching and strengthening program.