Shin splints, medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome, refers to pain and inflammation along the inner edge of the shinbone (tibia). This common condition typically affects athletes and individuals engaged in activities involving repetitive stress on the lower legs.
Read on to learn more about causes of shin splints, how to prevent the condition in the first place, and ways to manage the pain, including physiotherapy in Twickenham.
Who gets shin splints?
While shin splints can affect people in various sports, they are often associated with runners, particularly those who increase their mileage or intensity too quickly without allowing their bodies to adapt gradually.
Dancers and tennis players are also susceptible to shin splints due to the repetitive nature of their movements. Dancers frequently perform jumps and landings, putting significant stress on the lower legs. Tennis players, on the other hand, engage in quick lateral movements, which can strain the muscles and connective tissues of the shin.
Causes of shin splints
The primary cause of shin splints is overuse and excessive stress on the muscles and tendons surrounding the shinbone. This can result from several factors, including:
Sudden increase in activity:
When runners or athletes rapidly increase their training volume or intensity, the muscles and tendons may not have enough time to adapt and strengthen, leading to shin splints.
Wearing worn-out or improper shoes that lack proper cushioning and support can contribute to shin splints by increasing the impact on the lower legs.
Abnormal foot arches, flat feet, or improper running or movement mechanics can place excessive stress on the lower legs, increasing the risk of shin splints.
How to prevent shin splints
Preventing shin splints involves a combination of gradual progression, appropriate footwear, and proper training techniques. Here are some tips:
Whether you’re a runner, dancer, or tennis player, it’s essential to gradually increase your training volume or intensity. This allows your muscles, tendons, and bones to adapt and become stronger over time, reducing the risk of shin splints.
Invest in well-fitting, supportive shoes that are designed for your specific activity. Replace them regularly, especially if the cushioning shows signs of wear.
Cross-training and strength training:
Engage in cross-training activities to give your legs a break from repetitive impact. Additionally, include strength training exercises that target the lower leg muscles to improve their strength and stability.
Stretching and warm-up:
Prioritise dynamic warm-up exercises to increase blood flow and prepare the muscles for activity. Afterward, perform appropriate stretches for the calf muscles and the muscles surrounding the shin.
Rest and recovery:
Allow for adequate rest between training sessions to give your body time to recover. Incorporate rest days into your training schedule and listen to your body’s signals of fatigue or pain.
The power of physiotherapy
If you experience shin splints despite preventive measures, it is advisable to seek help from an experienced physiotherapist. A physiotherapist can provide a comprehensive evaluation of your condition and develop a personalised treatment plan. They may use techniques such as:
Hands-on techniques like massage, myofascial release, and joint mobilisation can help reduce muscle tension and promote healing.
A physiotherapist can prescribe specific exercises to strengthen the muscles surrounding the shin, improve flexibility, and correct any biomechanical issues.
They can analyse your movement patterns and provide guidance on proper technique and form to reduce stress on the lower legs.
A thorough analysis of your running or movement pattern can help identify any abnormalities that contribute to shin splints. Orthotics or shoe modifications may be recommended to correct these issues.
Education and self-management:
Physiotherapists can provide education on injury prevention strategies, self-care techniques, and modifications to your training routine to avoid future shin splints.
Get in Touch
Remember, early intervention and proper management are crucial for shin splints. It is always advisable to consult with an experienced physiotherapist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan based on your individual needs. Call us today on 020 8898 1231 to learn more about how we can help.