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Shin Splints: Causes and Management Strategies

Updated: Feb 26

Shin splints are a prevalent complaint among individuals engaged in running and impact sports. The term encompasses shin pain along the inner or front edges of the shin, making it the most common cause of shin discomfort.

Causes of Shin Splints:

The primary culprit behind shin splints is often overload or overtraining, which can manifest in various ways:

  1. Increased Training Volume: Elevating the number of kilometers run per day, week, or month can contribute to overload. Whether it's an extra session or additional distance, the cumulative volume exposes the legs to stress, triggering symptoms.

  2. Incorporating Incline or Hill Work: Adding hill work to your running routine can exert increased demands on the body. If these inclines exceed your body's capacity, it may surpass its physical limits, leading to shin splints.

  3. Introducing Faster Pacing: Incorporating quicker-paced running or high-impact activities beyond your usual routine can contribute to the development of shin splints.

Other Contributing Factors:

  • Decreased flexibility at the ankle joint

  • Poor running technique, including slow cadence, high bounce, and over-striding

  • Inadequate hip and knee control or stability

  • Weakness throughout the lower limb

  • Tight calf muscles and hamstrings

  • Swift transitions between supportive and minimalist footwear

Managing Shin Splints:

  1. Consult a Physiotherapist: Seeking guidance from a skilled physiotherapist is crucial for understanding the root cause of your pain and implementing modifications for long-term relief. This step is vital to prevent prolonged downtime due to potential issues like stress fractures.

  2. Strength Training: Strengthening the leg muscles is key to enhancing their ability to withstand force, reducing the likelihood of overload issues such as shin splints.

  3. Manage Running Load: Adjust your running routine to minimise stress on your shins. This may involve running on non-consecutive days, altering distances, or incorporating cross-training activities like biking or swimming to maintain cardiovascular endurance without straining the shin region.

  4. Reflect and Adapt: Consider your recent running experiences. Did you push yourself significantly further or faster than usual? Reflect on any drastic changes in training volume and progress gradually to allow your body to adapt.

For highly experienced runners very subtle changes can have larg impact... for example changing shoe brands or style. This is especially the case for those runners who already complete a high volume program.

If you have questions or need assistance in overcoming shin pain, feel free to Call Us.

Body Fit Physiotherapy

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