Shin splints is a term used to describe pain along the tibia (shin bone). Shin splints are a common sporting injury.
Common symptoms of shin splints include aching and / or slight swelling along the shin. The pain is often worse when performing high impact activities such as running.
Shin splints are caused by muscle soreness in the musculature on the front of the shin. These muscles are responsible for bending the foot upwards at the ankle (dorsiflexion). Worn out footwear, muscle weakness and running on hard surfaces can all cause shin splints. Shin splints often occur if there has been an increase in running mileage or an alteration in training footwear. It often occurs in those with 'Flat Feet' where the foot and leg roll inwards too much (pronate). This rotation overloads the muscles and tendons in the shin.
If you suspect that you have shin splints you should arrange a consultation with a podiatrist as soon as possible to confirm your diagnosis and ascertain the cause of your condition.
If you have shin splints and you continue to follow the same training regime your condition is likely to worsen, so you should rest prior to your podiatry assessment. 'Running through' the pain is not advisable as it will cause your shin splints to worsen.
If the cause is left untreated then shin splints can cause stress fractures of the tibia.
Shin splints are common in those with flat feet (also known as pronated feet). If a foot over pronates (rotates inwards), the structures of the ankle and lower leg are stretched and put under stress. Orthotics (shoe inserts) can help control this over rotation and support the arch, therefore reducing the stress on the muscles and alleviating the pain.
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