What Are Shin Splints?
Sports injuries, especially shin splints are extremely common. Shin splints refers to pain in the large bone in the front of your lower leg, specifically the shin bone also known as the tibia. The shin bone is under constant stress and strain when you walk, run and jump.
A common problem among athletes, dancers and military recruits, shin splints occur when leg muscles, tendons, and tissue near the shin bone swell and are inflamed. The pain is usually concentrated in the lower leg, between the knee and the ankle.
A shin splint can happen suddenly during a high impact activity, exercise or training. The pain can be dull or it can be so sharp that you may be forced to stop an activity. The pain however could either stop or continue after exercise. If the condition worsens it is possible for it to progress to an overuse stress fracture.
Shin Splint Symptoms
You may find yourself wondering “How do I know if I have shin splints?” If you have shin splints, you may experience the following symptoms:
- dull or sharp ache in the front and inner part of your leg
- pain that occurs during exercise
- pain on either side of the shin bone
- muscle pain
- tenderness or soreness along the inner part of the lower leg
- mild swelling in the lower leg
- numbness and weakness in the feet
Shin Splint Causes
Shin splints are commonly associated with high impact, repetitive activities that overload the lower leg such as running, tennis, or basketball.
Repeated pounding and stress on the lower leg muscles, the shin bone, and the tissues around it may result in swelling and inflammation.
Factors that Cause Shin Splints Include:
- Running downhill, on an uneven terrain, on a slanted surface or on hard surfaces such as concrete
- Using improper or worn-out shoes for working out or running
- Sports that have fast starts and stops
- Having flat foot syndrome and other anatomical abnormalities
- Lack of flexibility
- Sudden increase in exercise intensity
- Weak core muscles and ankles
- Tight calf muscles or Achilles tendons
- Being overweight
Types of Shin Splints:
- Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome
The most common type of skin splint, Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome is the swelling and inflammation of the muscles, tendons and tissues around the shinbone, or tibia. The pain is usually relieved when you stop strenuous activity.
- Stress Fracture
Shin splints can also be caused by stress reactions to bone fractures. If the shin bone is constantly hit by a hard surface, it may result in minute cracks in the bone. With enough rest, the body can repair the cracks. But repeated pounding and stress on the shin bone can result in a complete structure or a stress fracture.
Shin Splint Treatments
There are home remedies you can do to ease the pain of shin splints:
- Rest. Your body needs time to heal
- Cold compress to ease pain and swelling
- Over the counter pain relief
- Stretching calf muscles every day
- See a sports physiotherapist
Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in the treatment of shin splints. To effectively diagnose a shin splint, your physiotherapist will conduct tests to rule out stress fractures, compartment syndrome, nerve entrapment and popliteal artery entrapment.
Your physiotherapist may also suggest range of motion exercises and modification in activity to help improve blood circulation in the ankle and foot area and to relieve pain as well as reduce inflammation.
Kelvin Choi at Southport Central Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic is here to help you get back to the exercise you enjoy faster. Schedule an appointment, give us a call on (07) 5571 2222 or visit us at:
Southport Central Tower 2
Shop 2002, 5 Lawson Street,
Southport QLD 4215