What are Shin Splints and What Causes Them?

With the Chevron City to Surf for Activ fast approaching runners will be increasing their distances and picking up the pace of their training. This increases the load on the body and minor faults in running technique start to have a larger impact on the body.

One of the most common running injuries is Shin Splints (aka Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome) and is defined by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons as “pain along the inner edge of the shinbone (Tibia).” Shin splints are usually caused by repeated trauma to the connective muscle tissue surrounding the tibia. Pain along the bottom two thirds of the inside of your shin bone is typical of shin splints.

Pain that comes through the muscle on the front outside of the shin is often confused as shin splints and is more likely to be pain in the Tibialis Anterior muscle and/or a Compartment Syndrome Injury.

Shin splints can be attributed to the overloading of the lower leg due to biomechanical irregularities resulting in an increase in stress exerted on the Tibia. The most common biomechanical fault is overpronation of the lower leg, which is the ankle and foot rolling inward too much to collapse the arch when in weight bearing position. At Life Ready Physio we will assess your running form to assess your ability to maintain a stable lower leg with running. Often times core and hip muscle weakness can be a contributing factor as well.

Another factor that may contribute to shin splints is a sudden increase in intensity or frequency in activity level fatigues muscles too quickly to properly help absorb shock, forcing the Tibia to absorb most of that shock.

For runners who are suffering from shin splints it is best to see a physiotherapist that understands the biomechanics of running and will be able to help you make the necessary changes. I personally put each patient through a series of functional movement assessment tests and then record their running with a high speed camera. With this information we are able to best guide treatment.

For a good exercise to get you started please talk to your Life Ready physio regarding foot and ankle stability. Click here to make an appointment or to find your nearest physio.