Shin Splints - What they are, how to prevent them and when to see a Physiotherapist.

What are Shin Splints?

Shin splints is the name given to pain in the shin or front of the lower leg, which is usually caused by exercising. Shin splints are caused from the overuse and stress on your lower legs – Anything that involves running can trigger them. People who participate in high impact sports or anything that involves intense running are more prone to the injury due to the added pressure on their legs.

What Do Shin Splints Feel Like?

To begin with shin splints can be a dull, achy pain within the shin – usually affecting both shins and begins as soon as you start exercising. Shin splints can also develop into a very sharp, intense pain that stops you in your tracks. It is very important to stop exercising when you first develop the pain and exercising through the pain can worsen the injury further.

Why Do I Get Shin Splints?

Shin splints can occur when you have recently increased your exercise level this can include -harder training or exercise, longer sessions, running longer distances. Also running on a hard surface like concrete or participating in regular indoor activities, poorly fitting/worn out trainers, being overweight and lack of strength and/or mobility in the lower limbs can all be factors also.

Treating Shin Splints

You can treat shin splints at home with the following steps –

Rest – You will need to rest to relieve your shins from the stress that is causing the injury. You will want to rest from the activity causing the pain for 2-3 weeks with a gradual return.

Ice – Applying ice to your shins every few hours for around 10 minutes helps with the pain and swelling.

Pain Relief – Take over the counter pain relief – (Paracetamol & Ibuprofen) to help with the reduction of swelling and pain.

Switch – Switch to an alternative activity that requires less strain on the lower legs – activities such as swimming and yoga are ideal to keep you active during your recovery.

What Can I Do to Help Prevent Shin Splints?

There are a few actions you can take to reduce the chance of getting shin splints, these include –

Buying appropriate or well cushioned trainers/running shoes.

Running or training on softer surfaces – this can be the transfer from running on a path to running on grass. This reduces the impact on the lower leg.

Implement gradual changes to your training/exercise.

Losing weight.

Warm up before and stretch after exercising.

Engaging with an appropriate strength and conditioning program to ensure that you have the load bearing capacity for your chosen activity. One of our physios can help prescribe a sport specific program for your sport. 

When to See A Physio?

It is recommended to see a physiotherapist if shin splints are a regular occurrence during your chosen sport(s). A physiotherapist can advise on your situation and identify any reasons why this might be occurring. Following this you can receive a bespoke plan and procedures to help you with the prevention of the injury happening in the future - prevention is better than a cure. If a physio cannot rectify the issue it may be in your best interest to see a GP to investigate the injury further.

Call us today on 01273 667 826 if you are suffering with shin splints and we can advise on the next steps to be taken to give you the best opportunity of recovery.