How To Treat Shin Splints

What Are Shin Splints?

“Shin splints” is the term used to describe the pain that is felt in the lower leg, also known as the shinbone.  It is an important part of the lower leg because it bears not just the weight of the lower leg, but much of the body’s weight. Shin splints are considered a cumulative stress disorder because it results from repeated stress on the joints, muscles, and bones.

Causes Of Shin Splints

Experts have yet to determine the exact cause of shin splints, but it is believed to be a result of excessive force to bone structures.  This excessive amount of force in turn causes swelling in the muscles and an increase in the pressure against the lower leg bones.  Other factors such as weak shin muscles and tight calf muscles may also contribute to the development of shin splints.

Risk factors associated with shin splints include:

  • Sudden increase in intensity of exercise
  • Over-pronation of the ankle or “foot rolling inwards”
  • Running on uneven surfaces or downhill
  • Muscle weakness (especially in the glutes)
  • Wearing non-supportive/incorrect footwear while engaging in strenuous physical activities
  • Participating in stop-start sports such as football, basketball or tennis

Runners and high level athletes are at a higher risk of developing shin splints because they often engage in heavy physical activities.  A flat foot can also put you at risk of getting painful shin splints. This is due to the increased stress on the muscles of the lower legs.

Why You Are Getting Shin Splints

Shin splints are not hard to develop. The condition is very common and is often an inevitable part of an active lifestyle. If you’re active, you can easily get shin splints if you increase the mileage of your runs or the intensity of your workouts too quickly.  When you put too much sudden stress on the lower leg muscles after being inactive for a while, you may begin to feel dull pain along the shinbone, which can progress into a sharp pain that will prevent you from engaging in exercise.

People with shin splints will experience one or more of these symptoms:

  • Soreness and a dull ache along the shinbone
  • Muscle pain
  • Pain that develops during physical activities
  • Lumps felt along the affected area

How To Treat Shin Splints Why You Are Getting Shin SplintsPreventing Shin Splints

We all know the old proverb that says ‘‘prevention is better than cure’’.  The same principle applies when dealing with shin splints or any other exercise-related injuries.  Here we cover some of the ways you can lower your risk of getting shin splints.

Build Your Training Up Gradually

This would be our Number 1 recommendation – Instead of throwing yourself into intense exercise too early, work up your training gradually by starting slow and increasing your speed as your body adjusts to the intensity of the workout.  This is especially important for people who have been sedentary and are trying to get back into doing exercises. When building up the duration and intensity of your training, try adding 10% every week.

Avoid Running On Hard Surfaces

Running on hard surfaces can cause aches and pains in the legs and even the upper body, because it involves your feet repetitively striking concrete.  Unlike running on natural surfaces like sand and grass, concrete does not absorb any of the shock, so you land on the surface with more force than your legs can handle.  Running on hard surfaces can take its toll on your muscles and increase the risk of injury over time.

Wear Appropriate Footwear

One of the causes of shin splints is wearing shoes that do not provide adequate support for the feet.  Make sure to wear shoes that have arch support to prevent over or under pronation of the feet. If you’r fitness routine involves a lot of running, then it’s best to wear shoes designed specifically for stability and motion control.

How To Treat Shin Splints Preventing Shin SplintsHow Do I Treat It?

Shin splits will progressively get worse if not treated at the first sign of pain.  Our experienced and qualifies physiotherapist will do a full screen assessment as well as an overview of your biomechanics to be able to give you a proper diagnosis and point out any imbalances you are not aware of.  Once a diagnosis is established, your physiotherapist will make a treatment plan specifically for your unique functional needs.

Immediate treatment for shin splints may also require taking a short break from certain exercises which bring the onset of pain to allow the shinbone time to heal.  For the most part, the discomfort will resolve within a few days, but if it is not your first time getting shin splints, then the pain may last for a few days.

How Do I Manage Shin Splints?

If you’re struggling with shin splits and you’re located in the Perth area then be sure to contact Trained Physio & Fitness.  Our team of Physiotherapists have a special interest in treating shin splits for clients located in Perth.  Our team will provide you with a treatment program and the advice you need that will get you back to your best as quickly as possible.

Our physiotherapists treat various sports related injuries on a daily basis.  Book an appointment today and get back to feeling pain-free!

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