My shins hurt when I run. Have I got shin splints?
Shin splints, also known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, is a general term to describe pain at the front of the lower leg, generally in the shin bone when running. It can also be experienced when walking quickly.
What causes it?
Stress on the Tibia, or shin bone, can be caused by repetitive impact or excessive bending stress on the tibia caused by overtraining, insufficient cushioning in the shoe, running repetitively on hard surfaces, or tightness in muscles which attach to the tibia such as the calf or the extensor muscles at the front of the leg. A narrow running gait, or crossover gait, can increase bending stress on the tibia so it is worth having your running style assessed to identify any movement patterns which may be contributing to tibia stress.
What can I do?
The key is to manage loads through the Tibia by reducing mileage and intensity, wearing a running shoe with good cushioning and stretching the calf muscles to relieve stress on the bone. Applying an ice pack to the affected area can help relieve pain in the short term. If pain continues despite these measures then it is best to see a Sports Podiatrist.
How can a Podiatrist help?
There are many other causes of shin pain, such as muscle strains at the front of the leg or even a stress fracture. At Active Podiatry we can help by diagnosing the cause of your shin pain and designing a treatment plan to reduce pain and strengthen the muscles around the tibia so it is better able to tolerate the high loads associated with running. This may involve gait retraining following a running assessment together with conditioning exercises to increase flexibility and strengthen any areas of weakness. Orthotics or taping may be helpful as a temporary measure to reduce loads through the Tibia while it is recovering.
Whatever the cause of your shin pain, getting a correct diagnosis early on gives you the best chance of getting out of the pain zone and back to fitness more quickly.
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