First, let’s get to know shin splints. Whether you’ve heard of them or have been at their mercy, shin splints are one painful side effect of physical activity. But where to start?
Shin splints is a term used to describe pain along the shin bone (Tibia), stemming anywhere from the knee to the ankle. The most common type of shin splints is “Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome”, and in itself is pretty self-explanatory. It’s essentially stress on the inner side of the Tibia affecting the bone, calf muscle, ligaments and tendons.
Shin splints can be a result of overuse (training too much, or too much too quickly), poor technique (pronation, or rolling inwards, can cause extra stress up the inner side of the Tibia), high impact activities (lots of jumping, plyometric exercises or training on hard surfaces), flat feet (flat feet can pull on tendons down the Tibia) and running shoes (lacking cushioning and support recommended for your activities).
Now we know what we’re dealing with, what can you do to help prevent them?
- Seek the advice of a professional: It’s important to work with your physiotherapist to look at you and your situation from all angles. If Shin splints are left unattended without a proper assessment they could go from bad to worse very quickly!
- Replace worn out footwear: Cushioning and support must meet the needs of your activities and your body.
- Gradual increase is key: When training and exercising, only small changes should be made to give your body the chance to adapt to what needs to be done.
- Choose your surface wisely: Hard surfaces can aggravate shins and surrounding tissue. When possible, train on softer surfaces (such as grass) and be mindful of other high impact activities such as sudden stops and jumping.
- Biomechanical screening and assessment: This could be an option if you feel your running technique needs adjusting or you need exercises for stretching, strengthening, balance or flexibility.
- Know when to back off: Easier said than done, we know. The most recommended treatment and preventative option is all about giving your body the chance to heal and relax. There are plenty of other options if you don’t want your training to be totally compromised but the key, really is, to take it easy when you feel the beast of shin splints brewing.
Overall, shin splints can be nasty business but taking small measures to prevent them can make a huge difference to your training and your lifestyle. And as always, If you’d like some further information or have an injury concern, you can contact Progressive Sports & Spinal Physiotherapy today by either calling on (02) 4721 7798, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or clicking here to book online for a thorough initial assessment.