What Is Shin Splints?
Shin splints refers to someone experiencing pain along the tibia typically felt around the middle to lower third of the length of the inside shin bone. Medically referred to as medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints often occur in individuals who have changed or intensified their training routines. Overloading the muscles, tendons and bone tissue as a result of an increase or alteration in activity is a recipe for shin splints and is probably most commonly experienced among the running population and in my experience individuals new to running. The theories around shins splints is that the pain experienced is from inflammation of the muscle, or small tears in the muscle that’s pulled off the bone or inflammation of the periosteum (a thin sheath of tissue that wraps around your shin bone) or some combination of these.
Who’s At Risk Of Getting Shin Splints?
Shin splints are typically prevalent in the active population and there can be a number of factors at work in someone developing shin splints:
- Runners, especially people just beginning a running program are prone to developing shin splints.
- Athletes playing sports on hard surfaces, specifically sports involving many sudden stops and starts (tennis is a good example of this).
- Shins splints reportedly is quite common in military recruits and military training due to the footwear and heavy training demands of being a military recruit.
- Individuals with flat feet, high arches and specifically overpronating feet (which feet that roll inwards when load is placed on them) are at risk of getting shin splints.
- People doing an inadequate amount of stretching associated with their exercise create a tightness in the muscles that can cause extra stress around the muscle origins where shin splints occur.
How Can You Avoid Getting Shin Splints?
Preventing shin splints can be helped by working on the following:
- Being fitted for appropriate footwear for your foot type that suits your sporting and activity demands. As well this making sure you replacing them regularly before they start showing significant signs of wear.
- Working to achieve good strength in the stabilising muscles of your hips and lower limbs, including your foot and ankle.
- Working to maintain (or improve if necessary) the mobility in your ankles and calf muscles specifically but also your lower limbs and hips.
- When increasing training do so gradually. When changing the load, frequency, intensity, duration, surface… It is best to increase at no more than 10% per week this way it helps give your body time to adapt to the new and different stress to your body that the training changes are causing.
- Stop training as soon as you feel any pain in you shins during or after exercise and seek advice from a physiotherapist or like skilled practitioner.
Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on Shin Splints: Something For The New Runner should consult his or her general practitioner, podiatrist, physiotherapist or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.