The term shin splints is enough to strike fear and frustration in the heart of any athlete or dancer. This condition is incredibly painful and can leave the sufferer unable to run, jump, hop and sometimes even walk! Having been a runner for many years, I unfortunately experienced shin splints as I transitioned from distance to sprinting; in this blog I’ll detail what this condition involves and what sufferers can do about it.
What are shin splints?
Shin splints refers to any pain felt along the shin bone, for this blog I want to focus on the most common cause of shin pain known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome. This form of shin splints is defined as exercise induced pain along the distal third of the shin bone and often occurs gradually as the muscles and their attachments within the lower leg slowly become inflamed.
What causes shin splints?
Shin splints are caused by overuse of the structures of the lower leg due to:
- Sudden increase or change in frequency or intensity of exercise
- Exercising on hard surfaces like concrete
- Excessive up or downhill running
- Using unsupportive footwear- particularly if you suffer from ‘flat feet’
- Poor running biomechanics
What are the symptoms?
- Pain over the front and inner aspect of the shin during exercise
- When severe, pain is felt over the shin at rest
- Pain when touching the inner aspect of the shin
- Swelling over the lower leg
Treatment of shin splints
The treatment of shin splints will vary depending on the cause of the problem whether it be biomechanical or from overuse. Your osteopath will take a thorough case history and examination to ascertain the cause/s of the pain and create a rehabilitation program for you. As shin splints are an inflammatory condition, in most cases you will need to rest for a period of time and/or use anti-inflammatory medication, icepacks or compression bandages.
If the cause of shin splints is from overuse, while the acute inflammation is decreasing, your osteopath will work on tight structures which may be causing associated pain and address changes in your training regime. As mentioned previously, if there is a biomechanical cause, your osteopath will address poor running technique, restriction of joints within the hip and lower leg and provide you with information on proper footwear. As prevention is better than a cure, your osteopath will create a specific mobility exercise and stretch program to assist in improving range of motion and mitigate re-aggravations.
As I struggled with shin splints for months, I desperately performed many types of stretches and exercises to decrease pain. As shin splints have a variety of causes, it’s imperative you are completing a rehabilitation program which is tailored for your individual needs. If it sounds like you’re suffering shin splints or have any further questions regarding lower leg pain, please don’t hesitate to talk to myself or one of the other osteopaths here at Berwick Family Osteopathy and Spinal Clinic.
If you are suffering from a pain or lack of mobility and feel osteopathy could help, get in contact with the clinic today for a telehealth consult or face to face consult, to assist you with your complaint!
Blog written by Dr Robert Walsh – Registered Osteopath.
Berwick Family Osteopathy & Spinal Clinic