Shin splints or rather medial Tibial Stress Syndrome is characterised by pain or aching along the shin bone (tibia). It is caused by micro tears in the tissues around the tibia that create inflammation in the periosteum. If left untreated & undiagnosed it can potentially develop into a more serious stress fracture.
Shin splints is very common amongst new runners & those returning after extended time off often caused by overloading the tissues doing too much, too quickly.
Other common causes include over pronation, tight lower leg muscles, running on cambered roads/uneven surfaces, running on hard ground, a sudden change in running surface, change of footwear, change in training intensity & forefoot running.
If you feel any twinges, back off the running to a more comfortable pace/distance. Increase mileage slowly by following the “no more than 10% increase per week rule”. Cross train with cycling, pool running & swimming.
Another tip is to try an activity involving more lateral (sideways) movements such as badminton or squash, to allow the muscles to work slightly differently.
Ice massage & applying ice for 15 minutes several times a day is recommended, along with kinesiology taping to help offload the tissues and decrease pain. Sports massage is incredibly important once any acute inflammation has subsided after 2-3 days.
Include a warm up & cool down. Gait analysis and stretching/strengthening of the calf muscles is also recommended, as your running style and technique may be causing the added stress on your tibias.
WHEN TO STOP RUNNING – Tenderness/pain down the shin, usually the inside but occasionally down the outside or front. If walking also hurts, it may be a stress fracture. Book an appointment with your sports therapist for the next few days.
CAUTION – A tight, aching pain when running that goes away once you stop and hopping isn’t painful.
GO – Pain free running with no need for icing, taping or any other intervention.
If you think you may have shin splints and would like to get some more advice you book an appointment with our team HERE.
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