Shin Splint Treatment

Shin Splints and lower limb painYou don’t have to a “track and field star” or even a “weekend warrior” to develop shin splints.  It is true that a person who enjoys running is more likely to develop shin splints, especially if you have recently undertaken a dramatic mileage increase, or you are just starting out and running on hill.  However, just doing a lot of walking on hard surfaces or having feet which are unstable can be enough to trigger a case of shin splints.

Shin splints is a general term used to describe exercise or overuse induced pain in the front of the lower legs or shins.  Shin splints is characterized by either the separation of leg muscles and ‘fascia’ from bony attachments, or the over exertion and subsequent discomfort of any of the associated shin musculature.  The pain is felt along the shin bone (tibia), which runs down the inner part of your shin.  At first you will feel a dull, aching pain.  If ignored and exercise is continued, it can become very painful and you may have to stop exercising altogether.

In mild stages, the pain is reduced at rest, but gets worse with an increase in weight-bearing activity such as running.  This pain does not radiate, but can be described as deep seated, dull and throbbing.

It is really important not to ‘run through the pain’ because the shin pain could be a sign of an injury to the bone and surrounding tissues in your lower leg.  If possible, you should stop doing the activity that is causing the problem for at least two weeks.  You can still exercise during this time, but choose activities that do not put too much force on your shins, such as cycling, swimming, cross-training or yoga.

You can avoid shin splints in the future by:

  • Wearing running shoes that give the correct level of cushioning and support
  • Using orthotics (support insoles) if you over-pronate or have flat feet
  • Avoid training on hard surfaces whenever possible
  • Build up your activity level gradually
  • Improving your overall strength and flexibility

At We Fix Feet, your Foot Health Professional will be able to conduct a full and thorough examination to determine the cause and extent of your problem.  Our Chiropodists, Podiatrists or Foot Health Practitioners will need to know how long you have been hurting for, where it hurts and what may have aggravated the condition.  Our clinicians will be able to rule out those few lower leg conditions which mimic shin splints – stress fractures, muscle tears, tendonitis, for example.

The main treatment programme would aim to:

  • Relieve pain
  • Restore function
  • Prevent re-injury

Orthotics or support insoles will help to optimize your foot posture, which helps to reduce excessive muscle, ligament, tendon and bone stress and strain.  Orthotics will place your body in the most congruent position possible where all the pressure is evenly spread and therefore significantly reducing the need for excessive muscle contracture.

In addition to orthotics, rehabilitative exercises would also be suitable for your condition.  These will include gradual muscle stretching and strengthening exercises which will help the condition heal faster.

To help prevent shin splints follow these simple tips:

  • Stop working out as soon as you feel pain in your shins
  • Wear shoes with good support and padding
  • Warm up before working out
  • Stretch the muscles in your legs, especially after workouts
  • Work to maintain and improve the mobility in your ankles and hips
  • Work to maintain and improve strength in the stabilizing muscles of your hips and ankles.
  • Stretch the muscles in your legs, especially after workouts.
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