“Shin splints” is a broad term describing pain that can be felt in the front, inner or outer side of the shinbone. Pain on the inner side is by far the most common.
Typically, shin splits are from doing too much too soon, such as a sudden increase in running distance or adding a new activity before your body can handle the stresses.
The problem can be exacerbated by abnormal biomechanics - meaning your feet isn’t functioning as it should during walking or running. This is normally due to the foot bone structure and muscle imbalances or weakness. Examples of this are being flat footed, rolling in too far with your ankle and mid-foot (over pronating), or rolling out with your ankle and heel (supinating) while running.
Other non-structural causes of shin splints include wearing worn, non-supportive or the incorrect running shoes. There are a huge variety of shoes out there, and going for what shoe looks the best often ends in disaster. Excessive downhill running is a common culprit as well.
In severe cases, the pain may be from a hairline fracture in the tibia/shin bone. In this instance further investigation such as x-ray and ultrasound imaging may be required.
Combating shin splints requires:
Taping to reduce the strain on the shin muscles.
Compression bandaging or socks
Wearing the correct running shoes for your feet. No one shoe is right for everyone. It’s all about finding the shoe that does what it needs to for your foot structure and gait. If you are unsure, a footwear prescription by a qualified podiatrist is beneficial.
Running on softer surfaces for a while.
You may require a thorough biomechanical assessment and corrective foot orthotics. (Orthotics are essentially an insole that is custom-designed to correct the way in which your foot, ankle and knee functions during each step.)
Other modalities such as shockwave therapy and ultrasound can be helpful. (During shockwave therapy, a probe is used to deliver a high volume of acoustic waves to trigger biological effects that aids faster healing and regeneration of tissues. It doesn’t actually “shock” you, so those who are a little feint at heart, rest assured.)
Johan from JS Podiatry sees patients with a variety of sports injuries on a daily basis and he works in close collaboration with the team at Spine & Sports Centre to successfully manage and treat these annoying pains that stops you from living the active life you love. If you’re suffering with a recurrent injury, come and see us, we’d love to help. You can also send Johan a message via his website, he’s always happy to answer any questions you may have.