Shin Splints : Running Injuries
Running is one of the most popular sports in the world and unsurprisingly, many runners are blighted by lower body injuries, with shin problems being particularly common. Those who are new to running are more prone to shin injury, either because they overexert muscles that not conditioned for running, or because they wear inappropriate footwear. Runners who have been injured or inactivate for a long period of time are also at risk if they attempt to do too much at once instead of building their resistance back up gradually.
The lower half of the leg is made up of two main bones: the tibia, the large bone running down the middle of the lower leg, and the fibula, smaller in size and found on the outside of the lower leg. There are four major muscles in the shin area that work in conjunction to pull the feet and toes upwards.
What are Shin Splints?
This term can refer to several shin complaints, the main one being Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome. Runners can develop shin splints when their calf muscles are tight or fatigued. This puts undue stress on the tendons in the shin, causing them to become torn or strained. Shin splints are often a result of over-pronation, whereby the foot rolls inwards too much, causing the arch of the foot to flatten, which puts too much pressure on the soft tissues in the foot.
How Do You Know if You’ve Got Shin Splints?
The lower leg from the ankle to the knee will be painful and tender due to the inflammation of the tendons in the front part of the lower leg. The injured area will be sore to touch and may be a bit swollen. The pain is most severe at the start of a run and eases off as your muscles warm up, but it will return when you have finished.
Preventing Shin Splints
Doing exercises that strengthen and stretch the muscles at the front of the lower leg will help to protect you against shin splints. Using exercise bands is a good way of achieving this. Wearing shock absorbing insoles and a decent pair of running shoes that provide adequate support will also reduce the risk of shin splints. Wearing arch supports may help to guard against over-pronation.
Applying ice to the shins for 15 minutes 3 times a day and taking anti-inflammatory medication will ease your discomfort during the first few days. Reducing the amount of running you do or even resting entirely for a while will speed up the healing process, which usually takes 2-4 weeks. The shin may be taped up to rest the muscles. Physiotherapy strengthening and stretching exercises for the lower leg muscles, followed by a gradual return to running will promote healing. It is a good idea to do low or non-impact activities such as pool running or swimming to maintain your fitness level until the shins have healed. Surgery is not normally required for this type of injury.
- Achilles tendonitis
- Calf strain
- Groin strain
- Minor foot problems
- Over training
- Plantar fasciitus
- Pulled hamstring
- Runner's knee
- Shin splints
- Sprained ankle
- Metatarsal stress fracture
- Over pronation
- Thigh strain