What is Shin Splints?
Shin splints is not a specific injury or diagnosis in itself, but is a general term commonly used to describe pain on the inside lower third of the shin. The most common cause is inflammation of the periostium or sheath surrounding the tibia bone.
Symptoms include pain and redness on the inside of the shin, swelling may be present, lumps and bumps along the length of the bone where the injury has tried to heal and pain when theÂ foot isÂ moved downwards. Depending on how bad the injury is the athlete may have sore shins when they start running only for the pain to go away once they are warmed up. But eventually the pain will return.
Shin Splints Treatment
Active rest is important. If running makes it worse then avoid running and swim / cycle instead until it is better. Apply and ice or cold therapy to the painful area regularly for 10 minutes at a time.
Taping the shins with zinc oxide tape can be really effective to reduce the stress and strain on the muscles and their attachment to the shin bone. Wearing a support may also help keep all the muscles warmer and so more flexible.
Tight calf muscles are a big part of shin splints and so stretching the calf muscles should be done several times a day. Each stretch should be held for 30 seconds and repeated 3 times.
Shin splints is also often caused by either overpronation or oversupination. Make sure you have the right running shoes for your foot shape and movementÂ and you wear flat, supportive shoes during the day. Other things to consider include checking if your running shoes are in good condition (they are usually only good for 6 months or 500 miles), not running too much on hard surfaces such as roads or running tracks and not training too much on your toes such as in sprint training.
Cold therapy wraps are a more convenient way to ice the shin to hold the ice pack in place. They also provide compression to help reduce any swelling.
Zinc oxide tape can be used to tape the shin toÂ reduce pain and aid the healing process by taking some of the strain off the lower leg. A shin support is also ideal for compressing and supporting the muscle while it heals.
Calf stretchers can help to stretch the muscles of the lower leg more accurately and deeply that stretching flat on the floor.
Insoles are recommended, but which ones to go for depends on your foot shape and movement when you run or walk. Those who overpronate or have fallen arches (flat feet) need arch support insoles, whereas those who oversupinate need flat, shock absorbing insoles. If you are not sure which you are, then a sports injury specialist, podiatrist or specialist running shop should be able to help!