What is Shin Splints?
The term “Shin Splints” describes pain felt along the shinbone (Tibia). There are two types of Shin Splints known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome and Posterior Tibial Stress Syndrome. The shinbone has some muscles attached to it (tibialis anterior and tibialis posterior). But the actual bone of the shin has a protective sheath surrounding it called the periosteum which is made up of two distinct layers. The first or outer layer of the periosteum (fibrous periosteum) is where the skeletal muscles attach to the bone which acts like a glue which connects muscles to bones. It also contains blood vessels and nerves to encourage proper bone growth and development. In the case of Shin Splints, either the Tibialis Anterior or Tibialis Posterior becomes tight due to overuse or repetitive stress to muscles and connective tissue causing a pulling force on the fibrous periosteum (the glue the muscles attach to). This results in inflammation of the fibrous periosteum on the Tibia causing pain along the inner part of the lower leg and sometimes numbness and weakness in the feet. If not treated and rehabilitated properly it can lead to a stress fracture.
Shin Splints tend to affect runners and dancers and those who participate in any high-impact sports.
The common causes of Shin Splints are:
- Sudden changes in physical activity e.g. new exercise program or a substantial increase in the intensity of exercise.
- Anatomical abnormality (such as Flat Foot Syndrome)
- Poor muscular/ muscle weakness in the hip, knee and ankle
- Improper training techniques
- Pain on either side of the shin bone
- Pain along the inner part of the lower leg,/li>
- Numbness and weakness in the feet
- Pain when the toes or foot are bent downwards
- Swelling around the lower limb
- Addressing muscle imbalances that could contribute to the problem
- Gait analysis
- Appropriate exercises to strengthen the muscles
Most importantly if you are experiencing Shin Splint, use RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) and book yourself an appointment to get a full assessment to help accelerate your recovery.
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