First off, what are shin splints? Shin splints are when you have microtears of the muscles, tendon, bone, or other connective tissue of the lower leg that cause pain around the tibia (shin bone). They frequently occur with an increase of training or activity that causes an overloading of the tissues in the lower leg which causes injury and pain. This pain in the shins stems from over stressing the tissues in the lower leg. A diagnosis of shin splints is commonly given when there is a history of lower leg pain and increased training regimens without proper guidance. We frequently treat pain in and around the lower leg and this is a very common complaint/injury with runners, but you do not have to run to have a shin splints diagnosis.
Signs/Symptoms of Shin Splints:
- Pain over the tibia (shin) either on the front and/or inside of your leg (anterior shin splints) or on the back inside of your leg (posterior shin splints)
- pain/achiness during activity (progressively worsens)
- Difficulty running because of pain in the lower shins
- Tenderness or swelling on around the shin bone (not present in many cases)
Causes of Shin Splints:
There are several causes, but the most common cause is increasing activity (too much too fast). This can be increasing mileage, speed (cadence), intensity, adding new activities, etc. It can also occur from improper footwear or gait patterns. Any kind of misalignment of the hip, knee, or foot with activity can lead to pain as well. It is basically an overuse injury. If you overstressed the tissues before they were ready for that stress (think stress over time here) you can start to feel pain.
Ways to reduce Shin Splint Pain:
- Stopping the aggravating activity
- Compression (think compression pants)
Note: While this may decrease the pain it won’t necessarily heal the shin splints as these strategies don’t aim to fix the cause of the problem. And if you are an active person who loves their activity, stopping being active may not be an option for you. In this case getting help to modify your activities would be what you want to look for. Sometimes shin splints can go away in 2-4 weeks, but if there is another cause like improper technique or muscle imbalances it can take up to 6 months to fix or longer without proper help.
Shin Splint Treatment:
- Some semi-quick fixes are orthotics for you shoes or get fitted for proper shoes (this will only help with certain types of shin splints)
- Stretching and soft tissue work for your shin muscles
- Strengthening specific muscles with exercises and specific workouts to correct the muscle imbalances
- Using hands on treatments, kinesiotape, using therapeutic tools on the muscles and connective tissue, dry needling (if needed and wanted) is the fastest way to get relief
The best treatment is going to come not only from a proper diagnosis of shin splints, but more importantly what is causing the problem. Usually this is not only an increase in activity, but muscle imbalances in the lower body and possibly technique problems with your activities. A proper examination is important to find the root cause of why you have shin splints in order to give the appropriate plan of care to get rid of them. Typically there are several things addressed to not only get back to 100%, but get you exercising, being active, and working out better than ever.
If you think that you’re suffering from a shin splint injury, you’re feeling fed-up with below-par morning training routines, and/or you’re just sick and tired of waiting for the pain to disappear, then we urge you to contact us today. A physical therapist will help you determine your exact issue; we will treat the root cause, thereby getting you back to the well-known path in no time. We want to see you running and/or being active again, and it is our goal to make that happen.
Still not convinced? That’s ok! We understand that it might be difficult to come in and see a physical therapist, and that’s why we’re offering a free, discovery visit. Yes, that’s right. In our non-obligatory, entirely complimentary discovery visit, we’ll answer all your questions, relieve the pain, and give you peace of mind. You’ve got nothing to lose! Ask about our free discovery visit, right now.
We can get you back on the road or the trail in no time – just contact us today at 720-651-0674! We really want you to take action so you can get back to running and/or active the way you deserve as fast as possible. The longer you wait the longer it will take to get you running effortlessly and pain free again. However, if you want just a little bit more free information before you decide please consider downloading our Free Ebook “7 Tips We Give Colorado’s Top Runners to Reduce Running Pain” by clicking on the image below.