Shin splints are a common term used to identify pain along the shin or front of lower leg.
Symptoms include aching along the front of shin, at beginning of or after activity. Pain generally develops over a period of weeks or months and the front of the lower leg will likely become tender to the touch. Pain is the result of small tears of the muscle from the covering of the bone. Other pathologies with similar symptoms include stress fractures, compartment syndrome, tibial periostitis, medial tibial stress syndrome. Some of these conditions can be very serious and should receive immediate attention by a medical professional.
The injury generally occurs as a result of expired or improper footwear, excessive pronation and/or overuse. Pronation is the normal movement of the foot that allows the arch to flatten to a degree. If the foot is weak or tired and/or the footwear is inadequately supportive, then the arch can flatten more than normal, which is excessive pronation. Excessive pronation causes rotation of the lower leg. This repetitive movement can cause overuse problems from the foot to the back. In addition to shin splints, excessive pronation increases the stresses placed on the lower leg and contribute to all of the pathologies listed above. You can easily determine the degree to which your foot pronates by visiting any Dave’s location for a free gait analysis from one of our experienced team members.
Additional causes of shin splints include worn out or inappropriate shoes, muscular imbalances of the lower leg, poor biomechanics and/or improper foot positioning while running, and sudden increase in exercise or running (too much-too soon).
Repetitive, excessive pronation is a common or leading contributor to many lower extremity, overuse injuries.
So what to do about it?
Supporting the foot with proper shoes and/or insoles, can prevent or help to eliminate the vast majority of stresses on the lower extremities. Most common footwear has more than enough cushion but very little support for the arch and heel. As with most lower leg issues, proper footwear with appropriate support is critical to the treatment of shin splints. The solution for your injury may be a shoe with added stability or motion control. Another solution is to add a simple over the counter medical grade insole that provides appropriate support for the arch and heel. We recommend visiting one of our convenient locations for a professional shoe fitting and free gait analysis.
Stretching, strengthening and supporting, along with ice and rest, have been found to be effective treatment for these injuries. Gentle frequent stretching of the calf ( both gastroc and soleus muscles) and achilles tendon is very important. Strengthening of the anterior leg muscles (that pull the foot and toes up) is very important. One of the most effective exercises for the treatment and prevention of shin splints is frequent walking forward and backward on your heels with the toes pulled toward the knees. Two or three repeats of fifteen or twenty steps in each direction two or three times a day may be very helpful. Physical Therapy including ultrasound, iontophoresis, and exercise play a very important role in recovery.
For additional information about shin splints, stop by any one of our four convenient locations. Our experienced team of fit specialists is always on hand with footwear solutions and common sense advice.
As with any injury see your doctor if your symptoms worsen or do not improve. This material is presented for information purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice or treatment from a medical professional. When in doubt seek medical attention immediately.
We’ve learned a thing or two about injuries in the last forty years but that doesn’t make us doctors. This material is offered for informational use only and should not be taken as medical advice. Only you can decide when it’s time to talk to a doctor. Generally speaking any time an injury persists or worsens it’s time to seek help from a medical professional. Until then we’re happy to share our experience with you to use as you see fit.