What are shin splints?
The term “shin splints” is used when describing a painful condition/s of the shin region – commonly associated with overuse, and is characterized by either the separation of leg muscles and ‘fascia’ from bony attachments, or the over exertion and subsequent discomfort of any of the associated shin musculature. Shin splint injuries occur either in the front (anterior) or the back (posterior) of the lower leg. If left untreated, or if the causes of the injury are not addressed, shin splints can intensify and, in some cases, lead to more serious conditions – like stress/fatigue fractures.
How do I know if the pain in my legs is caused by shin splints?
Shin splint pain generally starts gradually and usually occurs during and after some kind of physical activity. In its mild stages, the pain is reduced at rest, but gets worse with an increase in weight-bearing activity. The shin pain doesn’t radiate, but can be described as deep seated, dull, and throbbing. However, other conditions (including the more serious stress fractures) can have similar characteristics. The best advice is to ask your Sports Medicine Podiatrist; he or she can make a definitive diagnosis and start working with you on restoring your health.
I don’t take part in any running or jogging programs, so what I have can’t be shin splints — right?
You don’t need to be a track star, or even a “weekend warrior” to develop shin splints. It is true that a person who runs or jogs is a more likely candidate (especially if he/she has recently undertaken a dramatic mileage increase, or is just starting out and runs on hills); but just doing a lot of walking on hard surfaces (concrete, metal, wood) or having feet which are unstable, can be enough to trigger a case of shin splints.
How can Auckland Sports Podiatry (ASP) help me to get better?
Your Sports Medicine Podiatrist will give you a thorough examination to determine the cause and extent of your problem. He or she will want to know how long you’ve been hurting, where it hurts, and what may have aggravated the condition. The severity of shin splint pain generally depends on how long you have been affected. Your Sports Podiatrist will be able to rule out those few lower leg conditions which mimic shin splints — stress fractures, muscle tears, tendonitis, for example.
Depending on the diagnosis of your condition, the subsequent treatment programme would aim to:
- Relieve Pain
- Restore Function
- Prevent Re-Injury
Sports Medicine Podiatrist’s will prescribe a comprehensive treatment plan which may include, joint mobilization, therapeutic exercise, and potentially the correction of your postural abnormalities through the use customised Orthotics.
How can Custom Orthotics help my shin splints?
Orthotics help to optimize your foot posture, which helps to reduce excessive muscle, ligament, tendon and bone stress and strain.
How does it do this? It’s simple, when the body is placed in the most congruent position possible, all the pressure is spread evenly and mainly on the bone tissue, therefore significantly reducing the need for excessive muscle contracture. Your Sports Podiatrist may also advise you to wear special shoes which have built-in degrees of control to help stabilise your feet and lower legs further.
What kind of exercise should I be doing?
Your Sports Podiatry professional can best determine what rehabilitative exercise would be suitable for your condition. Gradual muscle stretching and strengthening often help shin splint conditions heal faster. These exercises can be done conveniently at your work place or home, you can be underway in seconds, and helps you regain shin strength and movement without pain.