You know what’s the worst?
Pain along the shin that is caused by inflammation of the muscles that attach to the shin bone (aka the tibia).
Shin splints. Thy name is evil.
There are 2 types of shin splints as seen in the picture below. Pain along the outer front portion of the lower leg is called anterior shin splints. Pain along the back inside of the lower leg is called posterior shin splints. (or, posterior evil)
Shin splints is an overuse injury that typically is caused by training errors such as such as increasing running distance or intensity too aggressively and changing to a hard or uneven training surface. Other causes include:
- Poor running mechanics; heel striking.
- Poor footwear. Sometimes people switch to minimalist footwear but if they are heel striking they can develop shin splints.
- Weakness in the shin muscles; in particular tibialis anterior and tibialis posterior.
- Core and pelvic muscle instability.
- Imbalance between the quads and hamstrings with respect to strength and flexibility.
- Foot arch abnormalities such as excessive pronation.
- Poor intrinsic foot muscle strength.
- Unequal leg length.
- Rest! It is very difficult to resolve shin splints without temporarily taking a break from running. A rest break does not mean you cannot cross train to maintain your cardiovascular fitness! Try swimming, cycling, yoga or weight training. Any exercise that does not aggravate your shin splints.
- Progress Slowly. Think of any training errors you may have made. When you start running again, make sure you do not make the same mistakes again. You may need a more gradual progression into distance or speed.
- Mid-foot Strike. Do you heel strike? If so focus on mid-foot striking to decrease the force through your shins with each stride. The best way to do this is to focus on a 180 cadence (See earlier blog post on cadence!)
- Footwear. Have a look at your footwear. If your sneakers are extremely worn or too big look at purchasing new ones. If you are in a more minimalist shoe you may need to switch to one with more cushioning temporarily.
- Warm up. Do a proper warm up before your run starts, especially if you are doing a quality run such as hill training or speed work.
- Strengthen your shins. Strengthen your tibialis anterior! Try toe walking or doing dorsiflexion with a resistance band.
- Roll. Try rolling your shin muscle out. (Not the bone: ouch!) You don’t need to buy a fancy tiger tail as shown in the picture below. A wooden rolling pin from your kitchen works perfectly!
- Figure out your muscle imbalances. Book an assessment with our physiotherapists to check for muscle imbalances. It is hard to know if you need your core, pelvis, thigh, shin, and/or foot muscles strengthened or stretched if you don’t get a one on one assessment first!
- Modalities. Your physiotherapist can also try acupuncture and/or taping to help resolve your pain faster.
Hopefully following some of these tips will help resolve your shin splints! As always, if you have any questions or to book your assessment, email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org