Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, refers to pain felt anywhere along the shinbone - from the knee to the ankle. Runners and dancers are particularly prone to this injury.
Shin splints often occur when an individual has increased or intensified their regular routine. In other words, it frequently happens due to overuse involving the tendons, muscles, and bones in the lower leg.
Signs and symptoms
Shin splints are categorized into 2 categories. Pain that originates from the inner side of the shinbone is called ‘medial shin splints.’ Pain that can be felt on the outside of the shinbone is called ‘anterior shin splints.’ In severe cases, medial shin splint pain may be felt on both sides of the shinbone.
Common signs and symptoms of shin splints include:
- Aches and pains felt along the shinbone.
- Pain before, during, and after running or jumping activities.
What Causes Shin Splints?
Shin splints can be caused by various factors, including:
- Too much, too soon. This is one of the most common causes of shin splints.
- Flat feet. If you have flat feet, you are more likely to suffer from shin splints.
- Poor running patterns. Incorrect running posture or form - such as rolling your feet inward - can cause muscle or tendon strains.
- High impact activities, such as running on hard or uneven surfaces.
- Improper running shoes. Wearing the proper type of running shoes is crucial to avoid shin splints.
Basic Treatment For Shin Splints
Often, rest is the most common and important form of treatment for shin splints. You should avoid activities that increase your shin pain. However, low impact activities - such as swimming or biking - may help you maintain your physical activity level without aggravating your condition.
While you rest, icing can help alleviate pain and swelling. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen may also help reduce your shin pain.
When to see your Doctor?
If your pain persists, consult with your doctor. Other issues may be at play. It’s a good idea to get your leg properly examined to ensure a speedy and effective recovery. Your doctor may also perform an x-ray. And in severe cases, surgery may be recommended.
Preventing Shin Splints
The following precautions should be taken to avoid shin splints and other injuries
- Training shoes with appropriate cushioning and support. Proper footwear is essential. Consider asking an expert or a staff member for advice when you're buying running shoes for the first (or even the second) time. They’ll know which shoes are best for the activities you partake in.
- Avoid uneven surfaces. Try to stick to flat and soft surfaces that have less impact on your joints and surrounding structures.
- Consider orthotics or other arch support devices. If you have flat feet, orthotics or arch supports can reduce shin splint incidences
- Gradually increase or change your activity level. Too much, too soon is a frequent offender leading to injuries, such as shin splints
- Maintain an ideal weight. Excess weight places stress on the tendons, muscles, and bones - leaving you more susceptible to shin splints.
- Increase total strength and flexibility. Increasing your muscle strength and flexibility supports a healthy body. It further decreases your chance of injury.
- Perform an appropriate warm-up and cooldown.
Tapes For Shin Splints
Taping for shin splints can help you heal and recover - as well as help you get back to your regular activities. The tape helps relax the tissue, alleviate any pressure contributing to the pain, and may also increase circulation in the affected area. Taping can further offer support as you return to the sport of your choice.
We recommend using the Gripit - Kinesiology Tape 50mm x 5m. There are a wide variety of colours available, so that you can make your return back to sport in style. We further recommend getting your doctor or physiotherapist to show you how to tape your shins properly. They know your specific situation and can show you in person how to correctly apply it.
Ice Packs For Shin Splints
Icing is critical for treating shin splints. It helps reduce pain and swelling. Make sure only to apply the ice for 10-20 minutes at a time. Place a cloth in between your skin and the ice to avoid skin damage.
Our recommendations include the Mueller Reusable Cold/Hot Pack or the Vulkan Ice Bag. The Hyperice Utility Compression Device may also be used. In addition to icing, the Hyperice device offers compression - giving your leg the support it needs.
Strengthening the affected area can further help you return to your regular activities, as well as ensure shin splints don’t occur again.
The Theraband Resistance Band Loop can help you perform non-weight bearing calf strengthening exercises. In addition, other imbalances may be found by your doctor or physiotherapists. For example, sometimes after assessment, the hip is found to be the problem causing improper form and other issues. The resistance band is an easy item to bring with you anywhere or store at home in order to perform the exercises prescribed by your healthcare professional.
The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only. The indications provided are not a prescription and cannot substitute the recommendation of a health practitioner. We recommend that you seek the advice of your GP, physiotherapist or health practitioner before buying any item on Back To Sport.