What are shin splints?
Shin splints is the name given to pain at the front of the lower leg. The most common cause is inflammation of the periostium of the tibia (sheath surrounding the bone).
The injury is an overuse injury and can be caused by running on hard surfaces or running on tip toes. It is also common in sports where a lot of jumping is involved. If you over pronate then you are also more susceptible to this injury.
- Tenderness over the inside of the shin.
- Lower leg pain.
- Sometimes some swelling.
- Lumps and bumps over the bone.
- Pain when the toes or foot are bent downwards.
- A redness over the inside of the shin
What can the athlete do about it?
- Rest. The sooner you rest the sooner it will heal.
- Apply ice in the early stages when it is very painful
- Wear shock absorbing insoles in shoes
- Maintain fitness with other non weight bearing exercises.
- Apply heat and use a heat retainer after the initial acute stage, particularly before training.
- See a sports injury specialist who can advise on treatment and rehabilitation.
What can a sports injury specialist or doctor do?
- Prescribe anti-inflammatory medication e.g. ibuprofen. (Always consult a doctor before taking medication).
- Tape the ankle for support. – A taping worn all day will allow the shin to rest properly.
- Analyze running style for over pronation
- Use sports massage techniques on the posterior deep muscle compartment but avoid the inflamed periostium
Anti inflammatory drugs along with rest and ice can help reduce inflammation, particularly in the early stages. However if the underlying causes such as tight muscles are not treated through stretching and sports massage techniques then the likelihood of the injury returning is higher.