Shin splints is a blanket term that covers both medial and lateral stress forces on your tibia – or ‘shin bone’. Medial tibial stress syndrome is the pain and inflammation of your shin from having overly tight or damaged muscles that support the inside border of your shin, the most common muscles to affect this are the tibialis anterior and tibialis posterior.
Micro tears in the muscles can cause great stress on the tibia and cause inflammation and stress to the outside surface of the bone, causing inflammation and irritation. Shin splints can be in either one leg or both simultaneously.
Shin splints is a common injury in long distance runners, footballers and dancers. Left untreated, the continual stress placed on the bone can lead to stress fractures and will require immobilisation and long-term recovery to return to sport.
What causes shin splints? The cause of shin splints is often not clear, however, it is generally thought to be an overuse injury - often caused by training on hard surfaces and can be exacerbated by a new or increased training load.
Flat feet - when the impact of a step makes your foot's arch collapse (overpronation) Shoes that don’t fit well or provide good support Working out without warmup or cooldown stretches Weak ankles, hips, or core muscles
How long will recovery be? Shin splints is one of those conditions that has no set recovery time. There are a number of risk factors that are commonly predispose individuals to shin splints. A few to consider are gender, age, strength, stability and balance, personal goals, flexibility, height and weight. Recovery will be based on how much of the aggravating activity you continue to perform and how long the injury has been present before you have done something about it. As mentioned there is no specific time frame, but full recovery is usually around 4 to 6 weeks for true shin splints.
What are the symptoms? Earlier stages of shin splints will often cause some dull and minor pain after exercise, making it difficult or painful to walk for a few steps before ‘warming up’.The pain is most commonly felt in the lower portion of your shin bone on either the inside or the outside portion of the tibia. This pain often spans areas of over 5cm. This pain will then gradually start to occur during sport or activity and will increase in intensity and duration to the point where exercise my become unbearable. If pain then progresses to the point where it hurts during rest, with pain on the tibia itself can indicate possible stress fractures.
Treatment Shin splints is best treated with manual therapy, (deep tissue massage, as well as strengthening and stretching exercises). Some commonly used methods of managing pain include icing after activity, combined with anti-inflammatory medication to control pain, but in no way is this a solution to fixing the problem. Reducing aggravating activities to allow for the injury to fully recover is vitally important. This includes the frequency, intensity and duration of your chosen exercise.