Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, is a common injury that causes pain in the lower leg. It is typically caused by repetitive stress to the shinbone and the tissues that attach the muscles to the bone. Shin splints are often seen in runners, dancers, and athletes who participate in activities that involve a lot of jumping or running.
The pain from shin splints is usually felt along the inside of the shinbone and can be described as a dull ache or throbbing sensation. Mild shin splints can usually be treated with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medication. However, more severe cases may require physiotherapy or orthotics.
Common symptoms of shin splints include:
A physiotherapist can develop a personalized exercise program to address muscle imbalances and weaknesses that may contribute to shin splints. This may include stretching and strengthening exercises for the muscles of the lower leg, as well as gait analysis to improve walking and running form.
Poor footwear can contribute to shin splints, so a podiatrist or athletic trainer may assess footwear to ensure proper fit and support. Orthotic inserts or custom orthotics may also be recommended to improve foot mechanics and reduce stress on the lower leg.
A biomechanical analysis can help identify any imbalances or abnormal movements that may contribute to shin splints. This can be done by a physiotherapist or sports medicine specialist to develop a treatment plan that addresses the underlying cause of the condition.
Proper nutrition can aid in the healing process and reduce inflammation associated with shin splints. A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help reduce inflammation and promote healing. A nutritionist or dietitian can help you develop a personalised nutrition plan and assess your needs for supplementation.
Taping or bracing the affected area can provide support and reduce stress on the lower leg muscles and tissues. This can be done by a physiotherapist or personal trainer.
Massage therapy can help reduce muscle tension and improve circulation to the affected area, promoting healing and reducing pain associated with shin splints. A massage therapist can develop a treatment plan tailored to the individual's needs.
Over-the-counter medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used to reduce pain and inflammation associated with shin splints.
Resting and avoiding activities that exacerbate pain is a critical self-management strategy for shin splints. It's important to allow time for the body to heal and recover from the injury.
Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Ice should be applied for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
Stretching the calf muscles and Achilles tendon can help reduce tension and stress on the shins. This can be done through a variety of stretches, including toe raises and wall stretches.
Wearing supportive and properly fitting shoes can help reduce the impact on the shins during physical activity.
Gradually increasing the intensity and duration of physical activity can help prevent the onset or recurrence of shin splints.
Incorporating low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, or yoga into a fitness routine can help reduce stress on the shins while maintaining overall fitness.
Massage can help increase blood flow to the affected area, reduce tension, and promote healing.