The term ‘shin splints’ is one given to another injury frequently seen among runners, in which there is pain on either the inside or outside of the shin bone (tibia). The term includes stress fractures of the tibia or fibula, inflammation of the tendons on the outside of the ankle, increased pressure within muscle compartments, or inflammation of the membrane covering the tibia. ‘Shin splints’ is an overuse injury characterised by pain that comes on with exercise. Runners who over train, run on hard surfaces in poor running shoes, or who exhibit poor technique are susceptible to ‘shin splints’.
Shin splints can be avoided by wearing proper running shoes that provide adequate protection. Improving your technique and not over training can also help. A runner should cease activity if the shins feel sore.
Symptoms of ‘shin splints’ are:
- Tenderness over the inside of the shin.
- Lower leg pain goes away while resting but returns when running starts again.
- Lumps and bumps may be felt on the inside of the shin bone.
- Pain with plantar flexion (bending the toes or foot downwards).
- Redness over the inside of the shin.
- Sometimes some swelling.
You should stop training when the shin feels sore. If the condition is very painful you should apply ice to the area. Wearing shock absorbing insoles will help to reduce shock to the lower leg especially when running on hard surfaces for a long period of time. Apply heat before training and use a calf or shin support to help reduce strain on the muscles. Consult your doctor, who may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs.
We will thoroughly evaluate and ask you questions about your prior levels of activity and the mechanism of your injury, then guide you in developing proper training and running techniques and also on purchasing the right type of shoes. If your feet over pronate, this may be a cause of ‘shin splints’. We will use suitable modalities to control pain such as ice and massage, if this can be tolerated. Taping of the shin may also reduce some of the pressure on the leg. Gentle stretching exercises are part of the program and may begin on the first day if possible and continue throughout. During this time, the athlete should do other types of fitness exercise such as swimming or cycling to maintain condition. Do not be in too much of a hurry to return to active running. We will advise you when the time is right.