Oh my aching shins!
Do you get pain either side of your shin bone during and after exercise, especially during hill running? If you do you could have shin splints. We explain what it is, the causes and treatment options for you.
What is it?
Sometimes called "RSI of the lower leg", basically it's a condition caused by overuse of the lower leg.
This can sometimes cause you pain in the foot, ankle or up to your knee. It will usually ease off as your muscles get used to the movement, and often the pain doesn't appear until the next day.
There are two types
anterior/lateral shin splints – which is felt in the front of your shin and towards the outside
- posterior/medial shin splints (also know as MTSS medial tibial stress syndrome) – which is felt towards this inside of your shin and usually closer to the ankle
Not to be confused with compartment syndrome – which gets worse the more you exercise. This is when the casing around the muscle doesn't stretch properly and causes pain as the muscle gets bigger as you warm up.
What causes it?
Lots of things can contribute to shin splint pain. Here's a few:
- Running on hard surfaces all the time
- Lots of hill running – especially if you haven't conditioned yourself
- Suddenly increasing your mileage
- Speed training
- Flat feet
- Improper or worn out shoes
- Overpronation (running more on the inside of your feet)
- Oversupination (running on the outside of your foot)
- Insufficient rest days - overtraining
What can you do?
You may need to alter your training/exercise patterns to reduce some of the stress on your legs. You may need to vary the terrain you run on, reduce your mileage, try some cross-training or perhaps even change your shoes.
Ice is excellent treatment post-exercise. Put a bag of ice-cubes or crushed ice (not frozen peas!) on the sore area for 20 minutes, off for an hour, then ice again for 20 minutes. This will help reduce any muscle swelling as well as pain and help the healing process.
And of course massage treatment can really help you by reducing built up tension and adhesions in the affected muscles. Specific techniques are needed to access the deep muscles causing posterior shin splints. This can be a bit uncomfortable, but can also bring you enormous relief from the pain of the shin splints.
So - if you think you have shin splints, then book in now and get them sorted!
Posted: Wednesday 1 September 2010