Shin Splints, What Are They?
Put simply shin splints is a definition used to explain agony in the shins. A separation of the shin muscle from the bone is what often causes this discomfort. This condition can be caused from wearing a fresh pair of shoes for the 1st time to performing more exercise than your body is prepared for. Other causes can be running downhill or running in sand on the beach. The unusual pressure applied to the lower leg will find its weakest link and for many the result is shin splints.
Shin Splints, Why do they occur?
If we delve a little deeper we find that shin splints are pain or tenderness along the inside of the shin, usually about halfway down the shin. Pain on palpation of the shin. Pain is most severe at the start of a run, but may disappear during a run, as the muscles loosen up. This is different to a stress fracture, where there is pain during weight bearing activities (walking, stair-climbing) Shin splints are caused by: Inflexible calf muscles and tight Achilles tendons, overpronation (feet rotate too far inward on impact) excessive running on hard surfaces, Incorrect or worn shoes Overtraining, or a rapid increase in training load or intensity.
Shin Splints, What can I do to prevent them?
To relieve the discomfort from this condition it is generally recommended that you give your body one or two days of rest. Once the agony has subsided, steadily start your exercise programme again. Take into account that you shouldn’t raise your exercise distance or time by over 10 % per week.
Placing ice on the concerned area can also help in assuaging the agony and can help in reducing soreness also. You calf muscles work in opposition to your shin. Building up your shin muscles to cope with the added stress is important.
Proper stretching before and after exercise is important. Stand on a step with your heels at the fringe of the step. If a step isn’t available, this exercise can be performed by standing on the floor also. Be certain to disburse your body weight over the full length of your feet. Lift and lower the balls of your feet and your toes 20 to 30 times.
Shin Splints can be reduced by using a weight bearing orthotic. A weight bearing orthotic is created while standing and correctly aligns your feet and lower legs to have good posture. If you are exercising with poor posture it is creating unbalanced pressure on ankles, shins and knees. Custom orthotics will reduce soft tissue loading (see article on lower limb biomechanics page). You will feel the difference.