Shin splints are a general term used to describe pain at the front of the shin associated with exercise. There are a number of causes of shin pain but this article focuses on the muscle at the front of shin, tibialis anterior. N.B there are other causes of shin pain and if you have any concerns about your symptoms you should seek advice from your GP or Chartered Physiotherapist.
Tibialis anterior shin splints are common in runners and long distance walkers.
This muscle has two roles to play when running or walking. Firstly it lowers the foot to the ground. Secondly it bends the ankle up to allow the foot to clear the ground.
What Causes Shin Splints?
- Increasing your training too quickly which does not allow the muscle to adapt to the increased demands.
- Tight calf muscles are a common cause of shin pain. Tight calf muscles alter the range of movement that the ankle can move through on every stride and can add extra stress to the anterior tibial muscle.
- Over pronation, which is also associated with tight calf muscles, can overstretch the anterior tibialis as the foot rolls over.
- Not using the appropriate footwear i.e. trainers that do not support your foot adequately.
So What is the Treatment?
- Specific prescribed exercises including stretches and strengthening.
- Ice can relieve the immediate pain and inflammation.
- Footwear adaption and/or orthotics.
- Phased return to exercise