Focus on: Shin Splints

What is it?

Shin splints occurs in the lower leg, also known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, it is an overuse injury that causes pain along the inside of the tibia or shin bone. It is often found in runners, hikers and soldiers who march long distances.

What are the symptoms?

It is characterized by persistent lower leg pain, usually halfway down the leg on the inside of the shin. The pain may be felt sharp and intermittently during exercise, while others may experience a dull ache over the shin that lasts for quite a while after exercise stops. The pain often progresses and can begin to become prevalent with shorter distances. Eventually shin splints can prohibit individuals from exercising due to excruciating amounts of pain.

How does it happen?

Shin splints is commonly found in individuals engaging in repetitive, weight bearing exercise such as runners who increase their distances quickly, often while training for an event. The following risk factors may predispose someone to shin splints:

  • An abrupt in activity level
  • Improper footwear and support
  • Higher BMI
  • Training on hard or uneven surfaces
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Flat feet
  • Increased external rotation range of the hips
  • Females are more likely to develop shin splints than males
  • Prior history of shin splints
  • Wearing or having worn orthotics

How can Physiotherapy help?

Your Physiotherapist will begin by addressing any potential contributing factors and help to adapt your training program to a level that is optimum for you. Initially rest may be prescribed along with a targeted strengthening and stretching program for any tight or weak muscles. Making the switch to low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling and yoga may also help to maintain fitness during recovery. Depending on the cause of your shin splints, your pattern of movement will be analysed to make any adjustments to reduce the rate of reoccurrence. When restarting your routine it is recommended to only increase distanced by 10% or less per week, allowing time for the tissues of the body to react to the increased demands and adapt accordingly. 

None of the information in this newsletter is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your injury.

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