Shin splints are a very common overuse injury – especially in jumping sports or ones played on hard surfaces. Unfortunately, if not managed well you could end up in the dreaded moon boot so our physio, Kayla, has been kind enough to run you through the what, why and how…
Shin splints are an overuse injury to the lower leg and are most common in those who are active (e.g athletes/runners/military) and play running and jumping sports.
The repetitive overload up the shin without adequate rest causes a dull pain in the lower leg, usually on the inside of the tibia (shin bone). Often the symptoms are bilateral. Typically the pain comes on during the warm up, eases off as you keep going and returns after activity.
it is a classic case of repeated micro-injury, leading to macro-injury but the tricky bit is figuring out what caused the over-load…
The exact cause behind shin splints is unknown, however, there are many factors that contribute.
There are three main groups of contributing factors that increase the strain put on the tibia. Pain is caused by a combination of the following, not necessarily just one group:
Tight calf muscles
Weak calf muscles
Training surface – uneven or hard surfaces
Recent increase in training distance, intensity or duration
Equipment – shoes
Foot – arch or position of the front of your foot
Position of your hips/knees
Due to the wide range of contributing factors, it is highly recommended you see a physiotherapist for assessment. It is also important to get it checked out as the pain in your shin does not always mean you have shin splints.
Following the assessment, the physiotherapist will know how to best manage your shin splints, what muscles to strengthen and will get you back to sport/running as soon as possible.
A big part of treatment, at the initial stage, is rest. Following this, you and your physio can work together to plan a graduated return to activity and focus on correcting any of those contributing factors.
If the injury is not managed well, pain can continue to get progressively worse, and in some cases can lead to a stress fracture to the shin bone – we don’t want that!!
So, if you think this sounds like you, pop in for an assessment and a chat with one of our physios to find out what we can do about it!