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Shin Bone Injury

Shin Splints Treatment

Minute Read

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Posted 11 months ago

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Last updated: 03/12/2022

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by James McCormack

What are Shin Splints?

Shin splints are exercise-induced pain found either along the front of the shin bone or on the inner side. This is a progressive inflammatory condition. When it is at the front of the tibia, it is classified as Anterior Tibial Stress Syndrome (ATSS), while pain on the inner side is classified as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS). ATTS can primarily affect the Anterior Tibial tendon and muscle, while MTSS primarily affects the Posterior Tibial Tendon and Soleus muscle. It is most commonly a result of high-impact activity, and as a result, it is very common for runners to experience. In more advanced cases, it can also be painful to walk.

As the symptoms progress, they can cause increased pressure in the compartment of these muscles. A build-up of this intra-articular pressure can lead to chronic Exertional Compartment syndrome. In these instances, it is not unusual to get pain at rest and with activity. In severe Shin Splints, the tibial bone can also be affected. The outer surface of all bones is called the Periosteum. Progressive irritation of the periosteum can lead to a stress fracture of the tibia. In this article, we will explore the different treatment options that a Physical Therapist may recommend. We recommend seeing a Sports Medicine professional before trying our recommended home treatment options.

Shin Splints Diagram

Shin Splints Treatment

Load Modification

When you walk or run, the force that comes up from the ground gets absorbed by the bones, tendons, and joints.  Reducing the volume of walking or running you do can give the tendons and bones a chance to recover and settle down. This may involve shorter, frequent walks rather than long walks. Spacing the days that you run, decreasing your run speed, or altering the speed of your runs.

Altering Running Style

Where force goes through the tibia bone can be influenced by your running style. Alternating from a heel striker to and forefoot runner or vice versa can alter the direction of force and reduce pain levels. Increasing your step count to more than 171 steps per minute can reduce the force going through the tibia.

Picture of person with Shin Splints Running

Picture of Shin Splint Ice Pack

Ice

Activity causes an inflammatory spike, heightening the pain you experience from Shin splints. Applying ice to the painful area can have an analgesic effect and help reduce inflammation. Remember to keep the ice moving, so you don’t get an ice burn.

Anti-inflammatories

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen can help to reduce pain levels and settle down the affected site.

Orthotics Insoles For Shin Splints

There is some evidence that poor control of pronation moment arms can be a risk factor for causing shin splints. A custom-made orthotic insole can alter where the force goes through your shin and ease your pain. In some instances, this can resolve the condition completely, but it is usually recommended to carry out strengthening exercises alongside these.

Shin Splints Exercises

A Physical Therapist can guide you on stretching and strengthening exercises to help with your shin splints. Tightness and weakness of the foot and the entire leg can contribute as the leading cause of shin splints, so expert guidance from a medical professional can make a significant difference.

Picture of someone doing a Soleus Stretch off a step

Cross-training

Reducing the impact of activity through cross-training keeps you active and allows your shin splints time to recover. Non-impact activities such as cycling, rowing, swimming, or ski-erg are perfect cross-training activities to keep you fit while you recover.

Surgery

A condition that can develop as a result of shin splints is chronic exertional compartment syndrome. This is a build of pressure within the compartment of some of the muscles that run alongside the shin bone. In severe cases, a fasciotomy may be required to release the pressure in the area surgically.

Shin Splints Treatment: Conclusion

There are numerous treatment methods for shin splints.  Often a combination of treatment methods is required, then one effective form of treatment. Before beginning any of the treatments described in this article, you should seek a diagnosis from a medical professional such as a Physical Therapist.

Physiotherapy with James McCormack

This is not medical advice. We recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack. He offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments for £45.

 

Related Article: Best Shoes for Shin Splints

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