Shin splints is a general term for the painful condition in the shin or calves of the legs. It’s quite a common injury that sometimes affects people who are physically active, like athletes. Pain can vary from mild to severe or inflammation can occur in the front or inside section of the skin bone, ouch. This condition is also characterised by pain in the lower part of the leg.
Just what causes shin pain? Shin splint can be caused by excessive stretching of the muscles and tendons along the shin bones, (tibia and fibula). Shin splint running is a very common injury among athletes, and dancers, especially runners, as they enjoy running for instance, overuse of the legs can result in this type of painful condition. There are however other factors that may lead to shin splints such as:–
- Muscle imbalance
- A weakening of the core muscles
- Inflexibility and tightness of the muscles
Another major contributing factor can also be over-pronation of the feet which is when a person rolls the feet/ankles outwards or inwards. This leads to the internal rotation of the tibia which in turn increases the forces put on the muscles and ligaments in the lower leg.
Symptoms and diagnosis
The first sign of shin splints is usually pain in the shins maybe during running or walking for long distances. Although this condition is quite common among runners and athletes it can affect dance professionals and military recruits. There are several symptoms associated with shin splints, here are a few:-
- Sharp and steady pain up and down the shinbone
- Pain in the kneecaps
- Painful muscle tension
- Irritated or swollen leg muscles
- Moderate to extreme pain in the soles of the feet
If you think you’re suffering from shin splints the first thing to do is put ice on the affected area. Rest up for a while to see if the swelling goes down and the pain eases. According to many medical experts, there are a number of self-care measures you can take to prevent shin splints from recurring:-
- Wear proper and effective footwear
- Curb exercise and training routines especially if you lead a very active lifestyle
If shin splint symptoms don’t ease, you should consult your doctor or physician. In the worst-case scenario, you could have a small stress fracture or tiny break in your lower leg bones. In this instance, you need to have an X-ray, bone scan or MRI of the affected area. This is the only way to rule out other issues while securing a professional and thorough medical diagnosis.
Treatments and relief
It’s not all bad news. There are treatments and relief for shin splint problems. Shin splints can be treated with orthotics which helps to control over-pronation as well as preventing internal leg rotation. There are also a number of other ways to secure relief from shin splints. Apart from plenty of rest, physical therapy is an option to help strengthen muscles in the shin.