‘Shin Splints’ is a term often used to describe exercise -induced stress reactions upon structures in the lower leg. These structures include bone, muscle, tendon and connective tissue. Shin splints are generally associated with over-use.
The resultant swelling and inflammation of the affected structures places increased pressure on nerve endings, causing a dull aching pain localized to the front of the shin bone, and can progress to intense aching even during walking.
The most frequently affected site for runners is where the anterior tibial muscles anchor into the lower front third of the shin bone. These muscles function as decelerators of the foot at heel strike, and can be overused during unaccustomed downhill running, running on hard surfaces or over-striding.
As well as decelerating foot slap at heel strike, the anterior tibial muscles counter excess pronatory forces; consequently runners with pronated feet stress the anterior tibial muscles far more than neutral runners, and are more prone to shin splints.
What can you do to prevent shin splints?
- Use the right trainer for your foot type; if you are a pronator, supinator or neutral runner you will reduce your chances of developing splints by wearing the correct trainer type. Never run in worn-out trainers. If you are in doubt as to what trainer type you require, see a Podiatrist.
- Sudden increases in mileage can trigger shin splints, so increase your mileage by no more than ten percent per week. Harder running sessions such as interval work or hill running also need to be introduced with care. Rest days must be incorporated into the running programme, when high intensity sessions are being undertaken.
- Use a prefabricated pronation control orthotic such as the Orthosport Activ-8 orthotic a perfect choice for moderate over pronators
If you experience shin splints what should you do?
- Immediately after completing a run, ice the affected area for 15 minutes, repeating two to three times per day.
- As with all overuse injuries rest is the best intervention, so take a few days off.
- Consult your pharmacist about oral anti-inflammatory medication; gels tend to be poorly absorbed and ineffective.
- If you have had the splint for more than six weeks or you suffer from recurrent shin splints it is likely that you have a biomechanical problem that will require careful diagnosis and management by a podiatrist at The Barn Clinic
What treatments are available?
Our prefabricated orthotics are ideal for treating shin splints.