COLUMN: How to combat niggling shin splints

Phil Heler, of Buxton Osteopathy, describes shin splints and ways of avoiding the injury.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 18th January 2015, 5:00 am
Phil Heler.
Phil Heler.

Shin splints is a term used to describe exercise-induced pain specifically along the front of the lower leg between the knee and ankle.

It is one of the most common presentations in the lower leg anatomy of people who exercise or play sports.

Typical pain is felt more over the inner part of your tibia after strenuous activity.

Sign up to our daily Buxton Advertiser Today newsletter

This is particularly true when such activities involve running, or sports with sudden stops and starts, such as racket sports like tennis for example.

Any of these activities will exert considerable biomechanical stress on your lower leg, particularly if carried out on hard ground.

The mechanism behind shin splints remains open to some debate.

This is because it is fundamentally a symptom of something else rather than a cause in it’s own right.

There are however a number of recognised different contributory factors such as over-pronation (flat feet) when your foot’s arch collapses or a weakness in the stabilising muscles of the hip or even microscopic bony stress fractures.

Often it can also simply be the result of overuse.

The key determinant is ceasing the antagonist activity for at least two weeks.

After this time, the pain in your shins should begin to diminish.

During this period low impact activities should be possible, such as cross-training, cycling or swimming.

Each month I write this short article the same things are always true.

The usual system of RICE is advisable - Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Anti-inflammatories (under your GP’s advice) are also advisable.