Understanding Shin Splints
Posted on 5th March 2021
Shin Splints are what’s known as ‘mayo fibrous fractures’ (stress fractures). These happen when you’ve over-used the muscles and tendons surrounding your shin bone. If you suddenly increase your impact activities or start doing a lot of weight bearing exercises you might find yourself suffering from shin splints. The condition is an inflammation of the soft tissue surrounding the tissue lining to the tibia, but if it’s not treated the injury can get worse and progress to a proper stress fracture.
Exercises involving heavy weight bearing and those with lots of impact are the common causes of shin splints. Other things can add to the effects of shin splints, such as sudden changes to your training, starting exercise in general, wearing incorrect footwear, etc. Walking or running with a lot of pronation of the feet with the arches rolled inwards of downwards can also be a factor.
How do I know if I have shin splints?
If you’re having difficulty walking, this could be a red flag, and you should rest from the activity which you feel has caused it – or at least reduce the intensity. If you’re having sharp and needle like stabbing pains on the tibia part of the leg whilst performing any impact sport which only goes away with resting and it’s consistent, you could potentially have shin splints. Ask yourself whether you feel a strong relief when you stretch. lf so, then it’s likely to be related to shin splints.
How can I treat shin splints?
We’d recommend consistent deep tissue massage to the area every 3 to 4 days for a few weeks, both by yourself and from a therapist. We’d usually advise you to reduce the impact you had been doing which caused it until the treatment is complete.
In the meantime, you should look to focus on eccentric exercises to self-isolate the muscles allowing you to aid the healing process. It’s good thing to work on contracting those muscles with no impact when you have the injury as it will help aid the healing of the recovery by encouraging the blood flow to the area faster. In addition, use plenty of hot and cold treatments and take anti-inflammatory. I would also recommend Arnica 30C homeopathic remedy.
You should look into out your footwear too – even if it’s just gradually; orthotics may help. The best thing would be to visit a podiatrist to be fitted with the correct footwear.
What exercises should I do in my own time?
We suggest that you gradually increase activities as a build-up and make sure to warm up and cool down prior to physical activities. Stay on softer surfaces for the time being rather than flat surfaces like concrete, as this’ll help to reduce the severity of constant impact.
Strengthening the Tibialis Anterior muscle: (Dorsiflexion) - daily
Walking on the heels in Dorsiflexion once a day 25 reps, 3 or 4 times.
Dorsiflexion Repetitions in seated position with band 20 reps, 3 or 4 times.
The odd up-hill walks on the tread mill in intervals with low intensity.
Strengthening the Calf and Soleus - daily
Walking on your tip toes
Calf raises on a step
Strengthening the arches of your feet - toe crunches
Strengthening the knees, hips, and core for better mechanics.
Soleus calf stretch
Achilles tendon standing stretch
Hips (all legs), and full body stretch
Achilles tendon seated towel stretch
Tibialis anterior muscle stretch (pointing).
Based on how you get on each week we would suggest getting the injury re-assessed once a week to give you some kind of indication of where you are at.
It’s important to stay informed in terms of what you can and can’t do for the short-term stages of recovery to get the best kind of an indication as possible of the recovery time and the stages needed.
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