What are shin splints?
Shin Splints is a condition characterised by damage and inflammation of the connective tissue joining muscles to the inner shin bone. It is medically known as Medial Tibial Tenoperiostitis.
Muscles in the lower leg may become injured through excessive loading stress. This results in muscle tenderness, inflammation or knots. The most common muscles that cause shin splints are tibialis anterior and tibialis posterior.
A ‘shell’ called periosteum covers all bones. The tendons, which connect the muscle to the bone, attach on to this periosteum. This area is known as the tenoperiosteum. Most cases of shin splints have some element of inflammation of the tenoperiosteum. Inflammation of different tendons leads to pain in different areas of the shin.
What causes shin splints?
Shin splints most commonly occur due to repetitive activities placing strain on the tenoperiosteum. This typically occurs following excessive walking, running or jumping activities. It is often seen in running and football.
It also occurs in association with calf muscle tightness or biomechanical abnormalities. These might be flat feet, high arches or in those with inappropriate footwear.
Athletes more commonly develop this condition early in the season following reduced activity. They may also experience it when training surfaces are generally harder.
How to treat shin splints
As with most soft tissue injuries the initial treatment is rest. In the early phase you may be unable to walk or run without pain. Your shin muscles and bones need some active rest from weight-bearing loads. Pain relief may come in the form of acupuncture.
A strength and conditioning program should help your calf and shin muscles. Following advice from your physiotherapist utilisation of the running clinic may be required. This should improve technique and mechanics.
As you improve a kinesiology taping will help to support the injured soft tissue and provide some stress reduction for your shin bone.