Shin Splints

Shin splints is a term used to describe pain around the front and inside of edge of the lower leg. Common causes of shin splints include muscular strains, stress fractures and muscular swelling. Shin Splints account for 35% of running injuries. The diagnosis requires careful evaluation of symptoms and clinical examination to ensure appropriate management.

The muscles of the leg attach along the front and back bones of the Tibia and Fibula. You can feel this as you run your hand down the front of your leg. The anterior compartment (your shin) controls lifting the foot upwards and decelerating the foot hitting the ground while walking. The posterior compartment (your calf) allows for propulsion while walking and running, lifting the heel of the ground.

This strain can occur due to many different factors including tight muscles, overactivity in athletes or a biomechanical abnormality of the lower limb. There are many reason that add up to the exact cause of shin splints.
These include repetitive activity leading to strain in the muscle and its joining to the bone leading to swelling and inflammation resulting in pain.

The most common causes of shin splints include running and jumping leading to the overuse of muscles. This occurs frequently during sports such as basketball and tennis which requires rapid changes in direction of game play. Shin splints will more commonly occur in athletes that participate more than their bodies are prepared for. This can be exacerbated by environmental factors such as worn down or inappropriate footwear and hard training surfaces.

Shin splints can be described as anterior or posterior, depending on the muscles involved. Anterior shin splints (the front of the bone) often occur due to poor form or downhill activity which leads to extended pulling on the shin bone. Posterior shin splints (behind the bone) will more commonly be seen in athletes who are required to jump or have flat feet.

Signs and Symptoms
Most people suffering from shin splints will report tenderness in the front of their leg, often affecting sports and daily activities.
A sharp pain in the front of the leg, which starts at the beginning of activity and usually eases a few minutes resting.
This pain often returns with activity and can become so extreme as to stop the athlete from participation. The shins will often be tender when pressure is applied to the front of the leg and present hot and swollen.

Treatment and Prevention
• Rest


Total rest from all activities is always suggested first. Activities which intensifies pain should be paused to allow your muscles to heal. When returning to activities, appropriate rest times should be given in between to prevent


• Ice and Heat
A cold compress placed along your shins for at least 15 minutes. This will help reduce the
inflammation therefore relieving the pain. After this a heat pack is advised before you start stretching, this allows the muscle to warm up and helps circulation.

• Footwear and Orthotics
It’s very important to check over all your shoes, and see if there are a particular pair which are causing increased discomfort

Your podiatrist will check your footwear to see if they are suitable for your foot type. Your Podiatrist will also analyse your gait to check any abnormalities which are impeding your healing process. Shoes with a cushioned sole and laces will help reduce the impact against the ground resulting in pain.

If your shin pain is caused by poor foot posture or pronation, your podiatrist will provide
prescription orthotics to realign your foot posture.

• Exercises and Physical Rehab
At Mespil Foot & Ankle Clinic, your podiatrist will advise stretches to lengthen and strengthen the muscles of the leg to relieve the pain. Exercises will be prescribed to strengthen the muscles around your knee and ankle to support you during your return to the activities you enjoy.
Trigger point therapy along with dry needling is also extremely beneficial to manually stretch and elongate the muscle.
After recovering, it is important to slowly return back to activities to prevent recurrence. This can be achieved by tailoring your regime with a podiatrist.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your lower limb health, please do not hesitate to contact Mespil Foot & Ankle Clinic at



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