You feel a dull, aching pain in your lower leg as you set out on your weekly jog.
It’s irritating, but it doesn’t seem too bad at first.
The pain appears to subside during your warm-up but comes back full-force when you start jogging.
It gets worse and worse as your jog continues. Your run is over, but the pain doesn’t leave – your legs are constantly aching.
You may be suffering from a shin splints (or medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS).
We’re willing to bet that if we asked joggers or runners what their biggest injury concern is, shin splints would be somewhere near the top of the list.
It’s easy to talk about how shin splints are the result of running. But what really causes shin splints? And what is the right shin splint treatment?
What causes shin splints?
There are 206 bones in the human body. However, only four of these bones are in your legs: one in the upper leg, one floating bone (kneecap) and two in the lower leg.
The shin bone (also called the tibia) is the bigger of the two lower leg bones. Tap the front of your lower leg right now – that’s your tibia. This bone connects your knee with your ankle bones – needless to say, it’s pretty important to your overall mobility!
While the words “shin splint” do refer to pain in and around the tibia, it’s important to remember that it’s not always a single injury or condition. Rather, it’s more an umbrella term for a whole range of afflictions in your muscle tissue, bone, and fascia (connecting tissue) in your lower leg.
Like most conditions a Physio for leg treats, many cases of shin splints are caused by overwork.
Overuse isn’t good for the body – and in your lower legs, it can cause damage to the tendons and connective tissue around the lower tibia.
In some cases, shin splints manifest as micro tears in both muscle and bone tissue around your shin area. In the absolute worst-case scenario, it can even cause the lower leg muscles to separate from the bone completely – ouch!
Who suffers from shin splints?
Like we mentioned before, the leading cause of shin splints is overuse.
It comes as no surprise that joggers and runners are the most common victims (as well as those who spend a lot of time on their feet, including dancers).
If you’re a jogger suffering from shin splints, it might be time to take a look at your running technique. If you use a heavy, heel-first technique when jogging, you expose your lower legs to a lot of potentially damaging force.
Another issue is if you rely too much on your toes to push off. Stepping off with your toes puts additional pressure on your calves and shins – a job they might not be fully-equipped to handle on their own.
Flat feet and high arches
Other contributing factors include flat feet, best corrected with target exercise intervention to strengthen the muscles responsible for activating and maintaining a strong arch.
Treating shin splints: what you can do at home
Rest is not the long term solution, but if you’ve left your shins get to the point where they feel like they’re on fire, you may well need to let them settle for a few days.
Get your shins assessed!
Left to their own devices shin splints will NOT simply get better on their own. Find out what is causing your particular type of shin splints so that you can get the right intervention prescribed for you so those shins can start to heal.
Of course, putting the brakes on your regular exercise routine isn’t exactly something you’re keen to do, right?
A Physio for leg is uniquely positioned to help you overcome shin splints and get you back on the road (or the gym, or the dance studio…).
Supports and compression sleeves help relax the affected muscles by reducing pressure, while also increasing circulation and helping in recovery.
Using a traditional dry needle with a modern understanding of muscle groups , dry needling lets us target your shin muscles and bone directly which can accelerate the healing process.
Your physio can prescribe a range of stretches and strengthening exercises to encourage optimum healing and prevent the return of shin splints:
- Toe raises
- Calf raises
- Resisted dorsiflexion
- Heel and toe walking
- Hip external rotator training
Most importantly, your physio helps by preventing shin splints from making a comeback.
I have been seeing Ben for just over a month and he has completely transformed my ability to exercise and run. I could never run long distances due to shin splints and this has been going on for 10 years and I’ve been to countless physios.
Ben has been able to work with me on a program that has reduced my shin splints to a minor issue and built my hip, glute and core strength so that I am now doing a half marathon in a few weeks. Thanks so much Ben for all your support and help.
Need help getting back on your feet?
You need a Physio for leg!
If you’re an avid runner, chances are you’ve already experienced your first shin splint. Some might even wear it as a badge of honour!
If you notice the first signs of shin splints, it’s time to stop what you’re doing and seek treatment. Left untreated – or worse, aggravated by continued exercise – shin splints can develop into tibial stress fractures, which can put you out of action for weeks.
If you’re suffering from shin splints or any other conditions that impair your mobility, talk to the team at Physio AUS. Whether you’re at home, work or elsewhere, we help you live pain-free and without disruption.
Organise your first consultation!
- Book a physical consultation at our Highett clinic
- Book an online physio consultation – from wherever you are!