Updated: Jul 9
Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), is a common issue among athletes of all ages and skill levels. At My Family Podiatry, we frequently see clients experiencing pain in the front of their lower legs, often due to increased or resumed physical activity. But what exactly are shin splints, and how can you find relief?
Understanding Shin Splints
Shin splints involve irritation of the tibia (shin) bone's periosteum and the muscles connected to it. Pain is typically felt along the shin bone's inner edge and worsens after exercising. One characteristic that sets shin splints apart from more severe injuries is that the pain often "warms up," meaning it decreases during exercise but returns once the activity is over.
Shin splints result from increased stress on the lower leg that the body isn't ready to handle. This could stem from a sudden change in training load (more frequent, longer, or intense workouts) or alterations in how stress is applied to your feet and legs (different shoes or training surfaces). Consequently, shin splints often affect people who return to running after a break or students participating in sports they haven't practiced since the previous season.
Risk Factors for Shin Splints:
Flat (pronated) foot type: This foot position can increase the strain on muscles, leading to increased irritation at their attachment points on the bone.
High, rigid arch foot type: This foot position typically has poor shock absorption, potentially increasing stress on the lower leg.
Inadequate footwear: Shoes with insufficient cushioning and support may raise the likelihood of shin splints.
Abrupt return to exercise: Without properly conditioning your body for the stresses you're placing on it, bones and muscles can become irritated and damaged, leading to shin splints.
Solutions for Shin Splints
Rest: As an overuse injury, taking a break from the aggravating activity for 3-4 weeks can help reduce pain. Consider lower-intensity exercises like swimming, cycling, or using an elliptical machine.
Proper Footwear: Suitable shoes can help manage the forces applied to your feet and lower legs. Stability trainers are recommended for flat feet, while cushioned, neutral trainers are ideal for high and rigid feet.
Orthotics: Custom foot orthotics can be crafted by My Family Podiatry to ensure proper force distribution and place your foot in a more neutral position, reducing lower limb stress and speeding up your return to activity.
Training Load Management: Gradually progressing in exercise is crucial for conditioning your body. Consider adding just one extra day of jogging to your routine rather than jumping from one to five days of exercise all at once. Monitor your total weekly training volume to ensure gradual increases.
When It Might Be More Than Shin Splints
Some lower leg issues are more severe than shin splints. Contact My Family Podiatry for a thorough investigation if you experience any of the following:
Pain that worsens with exercise and doesn't warm up.
Pain after exercise that's severe enough to wake you up at night.
Pain at a very specific point on the shin bone, causing significant discomfort.
If you or someone you know is struggling with shin splints, don't let this injury hold them back from exercise and activities. Call My Family Podiatry at 07 3088 6116 or use the button below to book an appointment and let us treat your shin splints.