‘Shin splints’ is an umbrella terminology for shin pain. It’s not a condition itself but rather it covers pain at the front of the lower leg caused by a number of issues.

One of the most common causes is inflammation of the periosteum of the tibia (the membrane that lines the outer surface of the bone at the front of the lower leg) and the attached muscle fibres. This is usually as a result of repetitive impact or other stresses placed upon it.

Anterior compartment syndrome is when the anerior tibilialis  (muscle at the front outside of lower leg) swells, due to injury or impact and becomes too large for its surrounding sheath.

Another concerning cause of shin pain is a stress fracture of the tibia – this can sometimes go undiagnosed. The tibia is the larger of the two lower leg bones and a weight-bearing bone therefore susceptible to overloading. X-rays (often more then one required) can show the fracture (or the healing bone) and rest should be undertaken.

Understanding what causes shin splints can help rehab and prevention. Usually biomechanical factors are involved, as well as errors in training. Causes include overpronation and oversupination, inadequate footwear, increasing training load too quickly, running on hard surfaces, tight calf muscles and decreased flexibility of the ankle.

In terms of treatment, stress fractures should be rested and investigated immediately – manual therapy may well be too painful.  But for the other symptoms ice, stretching, strengthening and massage are recommended. Massage is only contraindicated if the condition looks swollen/hot and extremely painful. Taping methods can also be applied to take the pressure off muscle attachments and promote healing. Massage techniques on the deep posterior calf muscles can help to take the strain off the inflamed and painful tissues.

Here at Elements we have treated shin pain successfully, allowing clients to get back to their normal activities and providing them with the knowledge on how to prevent future occurrences.

If you would like more information or wish to discuss how we can help you please call 07595 052612 or email info@elements-therapy.com

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