Shin Splints refers to a painful condition in the shin, involving inflammation that occurs either in the front or inside section of the shin bone. In many cases shin splints can result from intense physical activity such as running or jumping, and is a condition that can often take a long time to heal.
Shin Splints: Symptoms
The symptoms for shin splints include tightness and/or tenderness around the shin, especially after running or walking for long distances. The pain typically presents itself when settling into rest, and is most common with people who have just started to get involved in running or walking activities.
Common Causes of Shin Splints
Shin splints are generally caused by excessive stretching of muscles and tendons along the shin bones (tibia and fibula). Overuse of these muscles by athletes in runners is the most common factor.
Excessive pro-nation of the feet can also be a major contributing factor. Over-pronation leads to internal tibial rotation and increases the tractional forces upon the muscles and ligaments in the lower leg
Treatment and relief for Shin Splints
In the short term, rest is required to help alleviate shin pain; running and other strenuous activities should be avoided until the condition is minimized. Shin Splints can frequently be prevented by warming up before intense physical activity. It is important for athletes and runners to slowly build up their level of activity and always have a solid warm-up prior to sudden or intensive exercise. A change in running style to eliminate overstriding and heavy heel strike can also reduce shin pain in the long term.
Using appropriate footwear is also a good way to prevent and reduce the effect of shin splints, especially for runners who strike heavily with the heel. Running shoes with proper rear foot stability are important. Orthotic insoles are useful in that they help prevent over-pronation and provide heel cushioning to reduce impact while providing heel stability.
Other recommended forms of treatment include ice therapy, rest and deep tissue massage.