Shin Splints - A Painful Hazard for Sports People

Shin Splints - A Painful Hazard for Sports People image

Shin pain, often referred to as shin splints, is a common term for the pain which occurs in the front and/or inside section of the tibia (shin bone), during and after exercise.

Anterior (frontal) shin splints are often experienced by new runners or walkers.  Pain occurs in the muscles at the front of the shin during exercise.  Posterior shin splints (inside shin pain) are a more chronic condition occurring along the inner edge of the shin bone and are generally associated with the more active sports.  Both conditions are related to excess stretching and use of muscles and tendons that run along the shin bone.

One common cause of shin splints is a mechanical problem in the foot know as over pronation, commonly known as fallen arches.  This condition allows for excess inward rotation of the tibia and heel bones.  This excess pronation produces muscle fatigue and a loss of shock absorption in the muscles of the lower leg.  Abnormal shock waves passing up the muscle destroy bone cells at the point where the muscles attach to the shin bone.  This condition is known as shin splints. 

Treatment of this painful condition takes time.  Sporting activities should be stopped until the patient has been able to walk for at least two days without pain.  The patient may then begin a programme of gentle walking, running or cycling until a feeling of tightness occurs.  The muscles should then be stretched and iced.  A course of treatment from a Sports Physiotherapist can be extremely helpful during this period.  Initially exercise should be limited to about 10% of normal training.  Being fitted with orthotic insoles to realign the foot, ankle and tibia is essential to ensure there is no re-occurrence of the injury.