Our childhood memories are filled with experiences of shin splints after playing in the park, playing tennis on asphalt courts with thin soled rubber tennis shoes, or running all day through the neighborhood with our friends. The moment we got home, our shins were on fire for no apparent reason. When we got older, we started taking more care before physical activity, stretching before we exercised. Despite this, shin splints still occur and are one of the most common complaints we hear from our patients.
Why do Shin Splints occur?
Shin splints are also known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, which is a common injury among runners and athletes. Leg pain between the knee and ankle is the characteristic symptom of shin splints. This may occur in the middle to lower part of the lateral part of the tibia, the largest of the lower leg’s two bones. Numerous factors contribute to the discomfort, including weak core muscles, running uphill, downhill, or on uneven terrain or on hard surfaces. The front of the shin suffers overuse and stress when the toes are lifted during walking and running if your gait is off.
Shin splints can be caused by ill-fitting and worn out shoes. As you repeatedly hit a hard surface without the proper support, the bones will become stressed and not be able to absorb the impact forces. When the pressure is too great, your tibia will bend or bow and cause shin splints.
You should do conditioning before beginning a new activity to prevent shin splints. Your muscles, including hips and knees, need to be strengthened through training. Nevertheless, opposing muscles must be flexible. Pre-working out warm-ups are crucial as well. You can ward off shin splints by performing exercises such as the runners stretch, heel/toe raises, and regular squats. We cannot overstate how important it is to wear proper footwear.
Shin splints cause a recurring sharp or dull ache along the inner part of the tibia or shin. Any kind of physical activity will cause this pain, and touching the sore spot may aggravate it. The inner side of your shinbone may feel tender, sore, or painful. You may also notice mild swelling. When you stop exercising, the pain may subside. If not treated, the pain may be continuous and even progress to a stress reaction or stress fracture.
It’s important to treat shin splints as soon as possible. Before returning to strenuous activity, you should rest, apply ice, and do strengthening exercises. You must wear proper footwear. When you stand, you may need orthotics or insoles if your arches collapse.
Physical therapy is the next step if your condition doesn’t improve, where you will do strengthening exercises to improve your foot strike and body mechanics.
Additionally, we recommend foam rolls to relax the tight fascia (the material that wraps most of our muscles) and manual massage to release the tension. Shin splints can also be treated with kinesio taping. Physical therapists use Kinesio tape to change muscle tone, move lymphatic fluid, and improve posture. When applied correctly, it creates a small space between muscle and dermis layers. By making space for such movements, you relieve pressure on swelling or injured muscles, allow smooth muscle movement, and allow drainage and blood flow.