What Are Shin Splints And How Can They Be Treated?

13 May 2019 runners

Shin splints can cause aches and pains along the shinbone as well as red, tender and inflamed skin, especially before, during or after running. But, what are shin splints and how can you treat them?

What are Shin Splints?

‘Shin splints’ is the everyday term used to describe medial tibial stress syndrome, which refers to pain felt anywhere along the shinbone from the knee to ankle. If you play a lot of sport, you’ll be more likely to develop a shin splint, as this particular type of injury is usually a result of overuse.

If you’re feeling pain on the inner side of the shinbone, you might have medial shin splints, while pain felt on the outer side of the shinbone is referred to as anterior shin splints.

What causes the pain when a shin splint develops is still unknown. It’s suspected that the pain happens as a result of the tendons and muscles that run the length of the shin pulling on the bone and inflaming the area. However, recent research has also suggested the pain reaction could be a result of a stress reaction from the bone.

What are Some Common Causes of Shin Splints?

A number of different factors can work in combination to cause shin splints. Some of these include:

  • Overuse – pushing yourself too hard during exercise, or trying to exercise beyond your current fitness levels can be detrimental to your muscles, tendons and bones. Overuse is one of the most common causes of shin splints.
  • Flat feet – the arch in your foot helps to protect the muscles and tendons in your shin. If you suffer from flat feet, you’ll be more at risk of experiencing slight tearing.
  • Poor running form – rolling your feet inwards when you run can put extra strain on your shin tendons and muscles, which can cause tears.
  • High impact activities – such as running on hard or uneven surfaces can result in injuries to the shin muscles and tendons.
  • Incorrect running shoes – the shoes you wear while running can be detrimental to the wellbeing of your feet, lower legs and knees. Wearing the incorrect shoes that don’t offer adequate support can contribute to the development of shin splints.

How Can You Prevent and Treat Shin Splints?

There are a number of precautions you can take to reduce your risk/the prevalence of shin splints, especially if you’re a runner or have had shin splints in the past. These include:

  • Doing a proper warm up before and after a workout.
  • Make stretching a regular part of your fitness regime.
  • Focus on strengthening the muscles in your lower legs with specific exercises.
  • Try to run on flat, softer surfaces like grass or running tracks, rather than hard and uneven surfaces.
  • If you’re over-extending yourself, reduce the intensity of your training.
  • Replace your runners before they wear out.
  • Include a mixture of low-impact activities such as cycling, swimming and walking in your exercise regime.

If you’re feeling any pain around your shinbone and think you may have developed a shin splint, it’s best to contact your Perth podiatrist for a proper diagnosis before starting a treatment plan. Contact Cannington Podiatry today!