Shin splints is a common overuse injury mainly affecting runners and anyone involved in high impact activities or sports. The good news is that this painful condition is preventable with smart training and self care.
What are Shin Splints?
The tibia on the inside and the fibula on the outside are two large bones that make up the lower leg. A number of muscles attach to these bones by tendons and work to keep the foot, ankle and lower leg stable. Too much force results in these tendons being partially torn away from the bones that they’re attached to.
It is a common misconception to think that the act of running itself is the causing factor when it’s really the sudden shock, repeated landings and changes of direction that is associated with running that is the cause of the problem.
What Causes Shin Splints?
Overuse, overload and poor biomechanics are the main causes, which include the following:
– Exercising on uneven and hard surfaces, such as concrete
– Exercising in worn-out shoes
– Increasing exercise intensity and duration too quickly
– Excessive uphill and downhill training
The main biomechanical problems are flat feet and over-pronation, causing the foot to flatten out and roll inward resulting in the tibia bone twisting, thus overstretching the muscles of the lower leg.
Poor running techniques and having tight muscles in the lower leg also contribute to the biomechanical problems associated with shin splints.
How to Prevent Shin Splints
– Stretching the shin and calf muscles before and after exercise or sporting event along with a proper warm-up.
– Strengthening exercises for the shin muscles, such as lifting the front part of the foot against resistance and toe crunches.
Having proper footwear is crucial in the prevention of shin splints. One of our physiotherapists or chiropractors at Alevia Health and Wellness can perform a gait analysis and advise on proper footwear and even supply custom fitted orthotics if this is required to improve the biomechanical alignment of the foot.
– Ice the sore shin for 15 to 20 minutes 4 times a day.
– Rest the shin from high-impact activities or sports. Instead, do low-impact sports like swimming, treading water or bicycling.
– If pain lasts longer than 48 hours, consult a physiotherapist or chiropractor who can advise on treatment in the form of electrotherapy, massage, acupuncture, stretches and exercises.