Shin Splints

What is it?
Shin soreness, more often known as ‘shin splints’ refers to pain or discomfort in the front of the lower leg. It may also be painful along or between the two bones.
Shin Splints is an overuse injury in which the body does not adapt to the repeated stress that causes minute injuries to the soft tissues or to the bone. This leads to inflammation- the body’s response to damage, causing pain, swelling and warmth in the area. If activity is continued then inflammation is worsened.

The most common site of shin soreness is on the inside of the tibia, where the posterior tibial tendon attaches. This muscle crosses the arch of the foot, so excessive stress can be caused by anything that results in the foot flattening more.

What causes it?
Shin soreness can have several different causes which will determine the course of management taken by your podiatrist. The list includes:

  1. Inappropriate footwear
  2. Sudden change in training
  3. Malalignment of foot/lower leg
  4. Lack of conditioning
  5. Weak or flat foot arches
  6. Running on slopes
  7. Tight achilles tendon
  8. Acute trauma to the area resulting in inflammation

What can be done?
Your podiatrist will undertake a thorough biomechanical assessment and formulate a personalised management plan to get you back into activity again.

Initially treatment will involve reducing the inflammation using ice or other anti-inflammatory medication.

Longer term treatment will involve:

  • Addressing the causes and rehabilitating your muscles/tendons to cope better with your chosen activity. This includes stretches and exercises which your podiatrist will prescribe.
  • Modification of your activity (eg running on grass instead of asphalt)
  • Changing footwear
  • Orthotic therapy