It’s a common ailment amongst runners, triathletes, tennis and squash players, and soccer enthusiasts. Anyone who has encountered shin splints first-hand knows of the pain and hassle associated with addressing the issue. Here’s a closer look at what, why and what to do if shin splints strike you.
Shin splints describe a shin pain that occurs in the front of the lower leg along the shin bone (tibia). Shin splints generally occur after continual stress causes a minor trauma to the soleus muscle at the point of attachment to the shinbone. They can also be caused by irritation of the posterior tibialis muscle and inflammation of the tissue that covers the tibia. Shin splints almost always are the result of overloading through repeated impact activities, without proper conditioning or allowing enough recovery time between workouts.
Pain, which often worsens with running or other weight bearing exercise Pain generally increases after running on hard surfaces Aching pain may linger even after stopping activity Calf muscles may be tight, tender, and inflexible
The most common cause is repeated trauma to either the muscles or bones of the lower leg. This could be caused by:
Improper stretching Lack of warm-up Training too hard Increasing mileage too quickly Running or jumping on hard surfaces Muscle imbalance between the posterior and anterior leg Worn out shoes that do not have enough support Running on a tilted or slanted surface Other biomechanical issues
Beginning runners are at increased risk of shin splints because they are not used to the high impact running has on the muscles and joints of the lower leg and foot. That said, no-one is completely immune.
Rest is the best treatment for shin splints For immediate relief use the RICE treatment method. Strengthening and stretching exercises are helpful. Tape your shins to reduce stress Wear good quality footwear and replace shoes as needed.
Returning to activity must be done gradually, ideally with non-weight bearing activities such as cycling, or swimming until your legs are pain-free.