What is Shin splints?
Shin splints (also known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome) is the name given for the pain you are experiencing in your shins or the front of the lower legs, usually caused by exercise. It is very common for sporty people who run as well as play other sports (such as tennis, squash, and basketball) that involve repeatedly putting weight on their legs.
While not a serious condition, it can cause you some discomfort and can even stop you wanting to exercise. It is very important to listen to your body and not run through the pain. The pain you are getting is a sign telling you to stop.
What are the early signs of shin splints?
You may be experiencing:
- Pain that begins soon after you have started to exercise
- Pain that gradually improves when you rest
- Pain that start as dull and achy but may become sharp and severe
- Pain that affects both shins
- Possible swelling on your shins
What are the common causes of shin splints?
Sometimes there is no answer and the cause of the condition is unknown. There are several factors that can increase your chances of getting shin splints. These include:
- A sudden change in your activity levels such as starting a new exercise regime or increasing your running distances
- Running on hard and uneven surfaces
- Not wearing properly-fitted trainers or wearing trainers that are worn out and do not support your feet properly
- Having flat feet
- Having tight calf muscles or weak ankles
How do you get diagnosed with shin splints?
If your pain does not improve over time and with rest, it’s advisable to see your doctor or physiotherapist for a thorough physical examination of your lower body. They may also:
- Ask about your symptoms in detail
- Refer you for a scan to help with the diagnosis and to rule out other likely conditions
- Advise you have physiotherapy where they can assess your injury, show you some good exercises, and recommend a suitable programme to do daily to help you on the route to a quick recovery
- Refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon or a specialist in sports and exercise medicine
How is shin splints treated?
Shin splints can normally be treated at home. The following will help relieve your pain and allow your legs to heal:
- Pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
- Change your exercise regime to low impact exercises
- Lose weight if you need to
- Physiotherapy to improve your overall strength and flexibility
- Deep tissue massage
- Stretch before and after exercising
- Review your footwear
Hopefully after following the above you will be able to return to your normal activities after a few weeks when the pain has subsided. When you start your old exercise regime, start slowly and build up over a couple of weeks.
How physiotherapy can help your shin splint
We will do whatever we can to get you on the fastest route to recovery. Some of the treatment methods we use include:
- Strengthening exercises
- Myofascial trigger point release
- Cross-friction massage
- Stretching and range of movement exercises
- Functional exercises