Shin splints are a common reason for runners to be sidelined. Of the many types of running injuries, shin splints are one of the most common for both beginner and experienced runners. Among impact sport participants, shin splints are a very common complaint. We offer treatments for those suffering from this condition, including physiotherapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, and more!
Among running and impact sports participants, shin splints are a very common complaint. The term ‘shin splint’ is an umbrella term to describe pain along the inside or front edges of the shin bone and is the most common cause of pain in the shin area.
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What causes shin splints?
The most common cause is overload or overtraining. Typically, this can happen in a few ways:
- An increase in training volume. This can be the number of km run in a day, week, month, or more. You might have run an extra session, and added an extra bit of distance to your usual schedule, all of which increases the total volume exposed to your legs contributing to the ‘overload’ that kick starts your symptoms.
- Addition of incline or hill work to your running routine. Hill work or running inclines and declines put increased demands on our body above that of just flat road running. Sometimes, if done in amounts that are more than your body can cope with, your body will be pushed above limits than it’s physically able to withstand.
- Incorporated faster or quicker-paced running or impact work into your routine than what is normal for you.
- Decreased flexibility at your ankle joint
- Poor running technique (slow cadence, high ‘bounce’, over-striding)
- Poor hip and knee control/stability
- Weakness throughout the lower limb: weak muscles withstand less load than strong muscles.
- Tight calf muscles, hamstrings
- Quick transitions between supportive footwear to minimalist footwear that doesn’t give the body time to adjust
How can Physio help my shin pain?
1) Reducing pain: Firstly, an expert Physiotherapist can help you get on top of your pain, fast! Common, hands-on treatment techniques that we use for fast and effective relief from pain include:
- Dry needling
- Trigger point therapy
- Deep tissue massage
- Foot/ankle/shin taping
These techniques can help you get through an important training session, game or run, however, they generally won’t provide a long-term solution to a chronic shin issue.
Your Physio will also provide you with the reasons your shin pain has occurred and the modifications and alterations you can make to allow it to resolve. Rest usually helps but then symptoms return on return to activity. There are bigger things at play that need to be addressed for long-term relief and to ensure you rid yourself of shin pain for good!
Secondly, ensuring there’s nothing more sinister going on that can lead to extended time on the sidelines (think stress fractures), or might need a period of non-weight bearing to resolve (the dreaded moon-boot).
2) Commencement of a rehabilitation program: A Physio can provide you with the tools necessary to get you strong in the right areas. The stronger you can get the muscles in your leg, the more force they can withstand, and the less likely you are to develop overload issues such as shin splints. Muscles absorb a huge amount of force during running, so it makes sense to strengthen them to allow them to cope better and to take the force off your bones.
3) Providing you with advice in regards to managing your running load or activity level. This doesn’t necessarily mean stopping exercising altogether. Outside of a stress fracture, bone stress (the start of a stress fracture), or symptoms that come on as soon as you run, it might be that you run on non-consecutive days, or for distances that don’t invoke your shin pain.
Sometimes it means a period of cross-training (bike, rower, cross-trainer, swimming) that allows you to maintain your cardiovascular endurance but doesn’t continue to put stress through your shin region.
4) Returning you to your pre-injury activity level: Once we’ve settled your symptoms, figured out how much you can continue to do, and started you on a rehabilitation program to build strength in the injured area, we’ll gradually ramp you back into your pre-injury activity level. We’ll also make sure that next time you’re striving for your goals, you have the knowledge to avoid the same lower-leg injury.
Do I need a running assessment for my shin pain?
If you are a runner with shine bone pain, it is most likely that we’ll undertake a comprehensive running assessment, including video analysis, on a treadmill. We’ll look at things like your:
The aim of this is to determine if any of these are contributing to your shin, predisposing you to recurrence in the future, or affecting your performance. We’ll give you feedback on the areas that might need tweaking in your personalised plan.
You can learn more about our in-house comprehensive running assessment here.
Any questions about what we can do to help you get on top of your shin pain for good Send us an email or call the clinic on 8490 0777. Alternatively, if you want to kick start your journey to your physical best today book online here.
Check out some of the management strategies we use at Thrive Physio Plus in this video:
Frequently Asked Questions
When to see a physio for shin splints?
When you have pain that is unusual to you or that prevents or limits your ability to exercise. Physiotherapy can help minimise your time away from running or sport if you follow a good plan and the right advice early on.