What are Shin Splints?

Shin splints is an umbrella term for pain in the front of the lower leg. The pain is often worse when weight-bearing and especially first thing in the morning. It is often onset by walking or running on a hard surface.

Causes?

The general muscles involved in shin splints are Tibialis anterior, extensor hallucis longus and digitorum longus. These are used for shock absorption. When they are weak or placed under an increased demand (e.g. walking or running on a hard surface) the force is transmitted to the shin bone and its attachments. 

You can also get more posterior shin splints, this involves the tibialis posterior, flexor hallucis longus and flexor digitorum longus muscles. These muscles act together as ankle stabilisers they can become overstretched when the patient is hyper-pronated (flat foot). This gives an indication as to why shin splits and plantar fasciitis can come hand in hand. 

How can we treat it?

Depending on where the pain is originating from, we can use different techniques to help alleviate the symptoms. For example, massage can be useful on the involved muscles in an attempt to reduce tension and improve the condition of the lower leg muscles by promoting blood flow back into the muscle. Using muscle stripping techniques can help to target specific knots and trigger points in the muscle that could be contributing to the pain. 

We can also use different types of stretching and exercises to help to strengthen the muscles around the lower leg. In turn, this will enable them to better cope with the stressors such as running that caused the shin splints in the first place. 

How can you help yourself?

It is important during the initial phase of the condition that you rest from the activity. Ice can also be helpful to reduce pain.

In some cases, a new pair of shock-absorbing shoes is all that is needed.

Stretching the muscles in your legs thoroughly before working out is also important to reduce the onset symptoms of Shin Splints. (please see diagrams for examples below).

If it is something you suffer with frequently, strengthening the muscles in the lower leg will also be beneficial as they will be stronger and will be under less strain when being used for shock absorption during exercise.

Tibialis anterior stretch
Gastrocnemius (calf) stretch
 

If you have any further questions regarding shin splints or would like to book a sports massage treatment please give us a call on 01702 342329.