Shin splints is a term used to describe a variety of generalized shin pain that manifests in the anterior or lower part of the leg throughout the shin bone. The pain from shin splints is usually positioned on the exterior front aspect of the lower leg or pain on the back interior of the lower leg.
It is important to note that shin splints typically develop after cumulative stress that causes micro-trauma to the soleus muscle at the area of connection to the shinbone.
Monotonous stress can also lead to annoyance of the posterior tibialis muscle as well as inflammation of the periosteum which is the connective tissue that covers the tibia. Shin splints are always the outcome of overburdening these soft tissues due to repetitive impact activities without adequate conditioning or allowing sufficient recovery period between the workouts.
Cause of shin splints
- Lack of proper warm-up
- Incorrect stretching
- Increasing the mileage rapidly
- Jumping or running on hard surfaces
- Using worn out shoes that do not have adequate support
- Muscular imbalance between the anterior and posterior leg
- Running on slanted or tilted surfaces
- Other biomechanical issues
What are the indications?
- Pain on the medial or interior region of the lower leg
- Pain is often worse while running or other weight-bearing exercise
- Pain that intensifies after running on hard surfaces
- Pain that increases during activity
- Aching pain that can linger even after stopping activity
- Calf muscles might be tight and rigid
- Pain intensifies while jumping, running, downhill running or hill climbing
Getting enough rest is the ideal for shin splints. The ideal way to provide relief is to use the RICE method to alleviate the inflammation and pain. Resuming activity must be done in a gradual manner with non-weight bearing activity until free from pain.
- Taping of the knee to minimize stress
- Stretching and strengthening exercises should be included
- Any worn out shoes must be replaced as needed
- Wear proper footwear suitable for activities engaged in
Resuming activity must be done in a gradual manner or there is the risk for re-injury. Modify the routine and reduce the time spent on exercising as well as the intensity so that there is no discomfort before, during or after exercise.
In case the pain persists after 3 or more weeks, it is best to set an appointment with a doctor for proper diagnosis.