Shin Pain - Shin Splints

This is a common name for symptoms in the lower leg, either over the inside or outside section. There are different theories as to what exactly can cause these symptoms, but a few of these are:

- Small tears in the shin muscles where it has pulled off the bone

- An inflammation of the periosteum (the thin layer of connective tissue covering the bone)

- An inflammation of the muscles

- A combination of the above

In severe instances more serious conditions such as stress fractures (incomplete cracks in the bone) or compartment syndrome (swelling of the muscles within the closed compartment of the lower leg) may be present. It is thus very important to get a proper diagnosis by a professional.

Causes of “shin splint” can be:

- “flat feet”, in other words flat foot arches

- Inadequate stretching

- Worn shoes

- Muscle imbalances

- Incorrect training techniques

- Excessive stress placed on one leg or hip

- Starting your training program at too high an intensity instead of gradually building it up

- Changing the intensity of your workout suddenly

- Changing the surface you train on

Generally it is about doing “too much, too soon”

What are the symptoms of shin splints?

It is a wide spread, dull pain over the shin area (inside or outside). The pain mostly develops during exercise, but can be constant in more severe cases. There can even be swelling in the lower leg and numbness or weakness in the feet.

How can physiotherapy help?

Your therapist will do a thorough examination to confirm the exact origin of the problem. He/she may even refer you for radiological examinations to exclude something like a stress fractures. Treatment may then include the following:

- Management of pain and inflammation

- Soft tissue mobilisation to relax the relevant muscles and connective tissue

- Muscle stretches and strength training to correct imbalances and sequencing issues

- Advice on rest times and intensity of training when starting again

- Full integration back into your sport of choice