What exactly are shin splints? Outside the medical field, this term is
used as a "catch all" phrase to describe numerous different types of
lower leg pain. From medial compartment stress syndrome, stress
fractures, and tendonitis, shin splints can be any number of problems.
But one thing is common among them all. They can be a sport stopping
nightmare, causing severe pain and discomfort.
Common Areas of Pain
In order to better understand this catch all term, lets look at the
different areas that can be painful in the lower leg. While shin
splints can often refer to any type of low leg pain, different
treatments may be neccessary, depending on the exact condition present.
Classifying the area of pain can narrow the possible diagnosis, and
Pain in the muscular
area on the outside of the
front of the leg
is very commonly referred to as shin
pain is usually present during and after activity, and radiates from
the edge of the tibia laterally. Pain along the bone is not as common.
Often this discomfort is present in both legs, and
is seen at the beginning of an athletic season, or after starting a new
activity. The most common cause of pain is a combination of overuse and
poor flexibility of the calf. As you begin a new activity, your muscles
are not conditioned for this increased stress level, and must go
through an accomadation period to adjust to the stresses. Coupled with
poor calf flexibility, the amount of stress on the anterior muscles of
the lower leg lead to inflammation and pain.
Another common complaint is pain
along the inside
of the lower leg
, along the edge of the tibia. Better
known as medial tibial stress syndrome, it results in an inflammatory
response along the insertion of the soleus muscle. This muscle of the
calf inserts along the medial (inside) side of the tibia, and the area
where it inserts can become inflammed due to stress.
Poor calf flexibility is often a primary cause of medial tibial stress
syndrome. Other factors that can result in this injury include rapidly
increasing activities without a gradual accomodation period, as well as
biomechanical concerns with the foot and lower leg.
The other most common area for pain in the lower leg is pain along
. This is can also be classified as "shin splints".
on the tibia, especially if it is localized to one very specific spot
can sometimes indicate the possibility of a stress fracture
While the term shin splints can refer to several different conditions,
there are several prevention techniques that can help with all of the
different conditions listed above.
One of the easiest ways to prevent shin splints, as well as many other
injuries, is to gradually increase physical activity over a period of
several weeks. The body is built to withstand the stresses placed upon
it, and to adapt to these stresses. This is the basic principle for
increasing strength, power, and endurance.
activity, your body becomes accomodated to these stresses, and gets
stronger. However, if you increase too quickly, you overload the body's
ability to recover, and this leads to pain, inflammation, and
ultimately sets back your progress. Whether you are involved in an
organized competitive sport, or just participating in recreational
activities, start off slow, working towards a goal of maximum
participation in 2-3 weeks. Gradually increase your intensity and
duration of exercise to prevent overuse problems.
In addition to gradually increasing your
activities, proper warm up and stretching is also vital. Flexibility
of the calf muscles is
very important. If the calf
muscles are tight, this can lead to increased stresses in the lower
leg, as well as altering the biomechanics of the foot and lower leg.
performed prior to and following activity, and
should be done every day in order to make gains in flexibility. Proper footwear
is important for
prevention of injuries. Making sure that you have shoes that support
your arch, and
that are designed for the specific activity you are participating in is
Everyone's feet are different, and this
types of shoes. Talk to your certified athletic trainer, or the
salesman at the store for more information on proper
While different conditions may require different treatments, the best
way to begin treating shin splints is to rest, ice
, and stretch.
Depending on the type of injury you have, this may
or may not resolve
your symptoms. Icing for 15-20 minutes following activity is a good
idea if you are experiencing pain.
reducing your intensity
or frequency of activity can also help. This will give your body time
to recover, and to get stronger, gradually accomodating to your
activity levels. And of course, stretching will help to reduce the
overall tightness of the muscles.
If you have pain and rest,
ice, and stretch, but do not see a significant change in your pain and
discomfort, please seek medical attention from your certified athletic
trainer or family physician.
If you are currently suffering from achilles tendonitis, plantar faciitis, ankle, or foot pain, you could benefit from a comprehensive foot and ankle
strengthening program. Foot Pain Solutions
is exactly what you need to help eliminate
your foot, ankle, and low leg pain. Great for prevention too, Foot Pain Solutions can guide you to finally getting rid of your chronic foot and ankle pain.
Read more about Foot Pain Solutions
While shin splints are commonly seen in all kinds of sports, the actual
problems can vary significantly. Following several prevention
techniques such as gradually increasing activities, proper warm up and
stretching, and wearing proper footwear can help to prevent this
injury, and keep you in the game.
Didn't find what you were looking for? Search SII for more information...
Running Pain Solutions
The key to getting rid of minor aches before they become major pains is a simple, total body prevention program.
Written for Runners by a runner, you'll learn a holistic approach to improving mobility, restoring normal movement and muscle activation patterns, and restoring the body and mind connection.
This Kindle Book contains a step by step program to keep you running pain free. Included are detailed instructions and illustrations for exercises to improve mobility, balance,
neuromuscular control, strength and endurance. Only $7.49!
Get Your Copy Today!