Shin pain can be relentless.
Ongoing pain that stops you doing the exercise you love. You’ve probably tried to ‘rest up and hope for the best’, which makes the pain go away, but as soon as you try to get back into training it flares up again – as I said it can be relentless!
Shin pain or commonly ‘shin splints’ is a widely used term for tibial stress syndrome.
This stress to the tibia, or your ‘shin bone’, can be present in two different areas: medially or antero-laterally. These two types behave very similarly, however they involve different muscles that insert closely either side of the tibia, so your pain is felt on the inside or outside of your shin.
Why do I have Shin Splints?
Too much, too soon!
A rapid increase in load or frequency can lead to the inflammation of the muscles, tendons and soft tissues around the bone, which in turn creates this ‘stress reaction’.
Repetitive impact activities are often at the main culprit. For runners, shin splints can be quite a common injury, however it can effect people who play sport on hard surfaces, do repetitive jumping activities and even walkers can experience this sort of pain.
Another contributor can be as simple as footwear. Are your sneakers supportive enough, or is it related to your feet and should your lower limb biomechanics be addressed?
How long will I have Shin Splints for?
Patience is key!
Pain can start to decrease as early as 2-4 weeks, however flare ups may need to be managed as exercise and activity is progressively built up again. It can actually take a full 3-6 months for things to completely heal and to be back exercising pain free.
How do I get Shin Splints better now?
The best way to get it better is actually to not get it at all!
Listen to your body. ‘Pushing through pain’ is not always the right way to go about it, especially in the case of shin pain.
Rest! > if shin pain starts to bother you, rest and give the body the recovery it needs. Use ice to ease inflammation and pain the the acute stage of pain, and in the case of severe pain anti-inflammatory medication might be an option.
Release feet and calves > using a mobility ball for shin, calf & foot release can be very effective in relieving tight muscles that could be attributing.
Support your feet better > there are some taping techniques than can help support your feet to ease pain, and simply a pair of new shoes that give you the right support may give you instant relief of pain.
In the long-term?
Train smart > learn and realise when it’s time to have a a day or so of training. Progressively loading you exercise is very important, and this includes enough recovery time to avoid the onset of injury.
Address lower limb Biomechanics > maybe the underlying issues is about your foot posture, or maybe the technique of your heel strike or landing phase of running or jumping? Having your gait and biomechanics assessed might be the key to long term prevention.
Strengthen your feet and lower limbs > getting stronger is always the way to go. Targeting the calves, glutes and the entire lower limb musculature. With particular focus on single leg strength, as well as some hopping and jumping endurance training to help to prevent shin splints, while also improving your running or jumping ability too.
What should I do now?
Getting assessed by a Physio should be your first step!
Someone who understands the condition and wants to help you get stronger and prevent this injury in the future.
Rest and recovery! ‘No pain no gain’ is not always a beneficial approach. Train smart, manage your load, and find out and address the underlying issue whether that be; footwear, foot posture, lower limb biomechanics or lack of strength.
- Trigger ball on feet, shins & calf
- eccentric calf lower off step
- SL hop for endurance
The LIFT. Movement