Been Running Like Crazy….. Sore Legs… Could it be Shin Splints?
Shin Splints is the common term for Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS). It is an injury caused by overuse and ‘doing too much too soon’, whereby there is an inflammatory reaction of the periosteum of the tibia (the outer covering of the bone). It is more common for those participating in high impact activities such as running, jumping or football.
What Causes Shin Splints?
Shin splints are caused by overstraining of your muscles where they attach to your shinbone. Generally we see the most common cause is overuse or over training in association with poor foot and lower limb biomechanics. In these cases we see the muscles of the lower limb placed under more stress than they are able to cope with, resulting in their inability to function properly, and dysfunction occurs.
Factors that may predispose an individual at an increase risk of developing shin splints are:
▪ Over pronation / Supination of your feet
▪ Inappropriate footwear
▪ Increasing your training too quickly
▪ Running on hard or angled surfaces
▪ Tight calf muscles, hamstrings
▪ Weakness in lower limb muscles ( Quads / Hamstrings / Calf’s )
It is important to remember that not all pain in leg is shin splints. Stress fractures, Tendonoapthy’s or compartment syndrome should all be ruled out, and may develop if shin splints are left untreated.
The Signs and symptoms of shin splints may include:
• An Ache or pain along the border of your shinbone (inside and outside)
• The area is tender to touch along the bone and muscle
• The overlying skin may be red and inflamed
• The pain may be felt before, during or after running
Remember treatment should always be targeted to you as the individual and your symptoms, taking into consideration your biomechanics and body type. But here are a few tips to help if you believe you may be suffering from shin splints:
• RICE – rest, ice, compression and elevation to reduce pain and inflammation
• Reducing your load bearing activity and replace with non weight bearing i.e. (swimming, cycling, water running)
• Stretching lower limb – Hamstrings, Quads, Gastrocnemius, Soleus
• Ensure you have good foot ware and shock absorption in shoes
• Correct foot, ankle and leg and lower back alignment
• Gradual return to sport after injury
It is always beneficial to seek the advice of a health care professional should your symptoms not improve. Shin splints may progress to other complication such as Stress Fractures or Compartment Syndrome. So make sure you are giving your body the best chance to recover and seek help if your symptoms don’t improve. This will maximise your time spent on the trails rather than in the treatment room.
Stay healthy, train hard and enjoy your running.