Shin Splints Causes/Solutions.

Shin splints appear as pain in the front of the leg on the Tibia bone. These are in fact stress fractures that affect small bits of bone and are often referred to as an overuse injury. For some people these appear quickly and can be debilitating. They can also occur in people who power walk. In all cases there is inflammation due mainly to the posterior peroneal tendon and tissue damage in the front of the leg.    

The pain can start just as a dull ache but continual use will result in severe pain and discomfort. The causes are many and often varied. They can be from a sudden increase in activity, this increase in the use of the lower limb muscles can also be because you have a tendency to pronate your foot. (roll your foot inwards), you may also have a tight Achilles tendon , weak ankle muscles, or over developed calf muscles I.E. Gastrocnemius. The gastrocnemius is the antagonist to tibialis anterior. If the gastrocnemius is too short or over tight then the tibialis anterior becomes long and weak. This can also result in shin splints.

To be sure those suffering from Shin Splints can have bone scans, MRI, or x-rays. How to treat? In all cases total rest is advised. In the first instance, apply ice and use anti-inflammatory medications, and bandage the affected zone. Stretch the calf region and then look for biomechanical reasons. Contact a podiatrist to ensure your particular foot shape and type is not the cause. You may need to have orthotics fitted to assist with pronation or supination which could be causing you an issue. It is important to stretch twice daily. When you have found the reason for the cause of your shin splint issue make sure your return to running slowly and keep the initial intensity low. A gradual return to exercise is advised using soft surfaces to run on.

The flowing abstract and research also makes for interesting reading.
Some biomechanical aspects of the foot and ankle in athletes with and without shin splints

Abstract

Thirteen adult male athletes (long-distance runners and orienteerers without foot problems) and 35 male athletes with shin splints were compared with respect to: 1) the position of the lower leg and the heel while standing, 2) the passive range of mobility in the subtalar joint, and 3) the angular displacement between the calcaneus and the midline of the lower leg (Achilles tendon angle) while running with bare feet on a tread mill. In standing, the two groups differed statistically significantly in the Achilles tendon angle, which values were greater in the shin splint group. With respect to passive mobility, the athletes with shin splints had significantly greater (P < 0.05-0.01) angular displacement values in inversion, eversion, and in their sum than the control group. While running, the Achilles tendon angle of the shin splint group was significantly greater (P < 0.01) at the heel strike. Further, the shin splints group had a significantly greater (P < 0.01) angular displacement between the heel strike and the maximal everted position. The results suggest structural and functional differences in the feet and ankles between healthy athletes and those with shin splints.

  1. 1.      Medical Research Unit, Department of Physiology, University of Turku, Finland Jukka T. Vtasalo, PhD
  2. Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland, Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland
  3. 1.      Martti Kvist, MD
  4. Sports Medical Research Unit, Department of Physiology, University of Turku, Finland, Sports Medical Research Unit, Department of Physiology, University of Turku, Finland
  5. 1.      Jukka T. Vtasalo, PhD
  6. Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland, Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland
  7. 1.      Martti Kvist, MD

REFERENCES:

Koopman, William, et al., eds. Clinical Primer of Rheumatology. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2003.

Ruddy, Shaun, et al., eds. Kelley’s Textbook of Rheumatology, 6th ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2001.

Article compiled by:

John Hart

“Master’s In Education” (Disability) Newcastle University Australia

“Grad Cert Education” Newcastle University Australia

“Diploma Fitness/Recreation”

“Diploma of Sport and Recreation”

“Cert 4 Personal Training”

“Level 1 Strength and Conditioning Coach”

Member of ASCA (Australian Strength and Conditioning Association)

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