Shin Splints – what are they and how can physio help?

shin splints

What are shin splints?

Shin splints are a common running injury and typically occur at the front (anterior shin splints) or  at the edges, towards the back of the shin (posterior shin splints).

Anatomy

The tibialis anterior muscle at the front of the shin is responsible for pulling your toes up towards you and, during walking and running, it lifts the foot off the ground then contracts to lower your foot onto the ground.

The tibialis posterior muscle is located to the inside and back of the shin and is responsible for turning the sole of your foot inwards and controlling the foot position during the stance phase of walking.

Both these muscles attach to the outer layer of the shin bone, the periosteum, and it is the periosteum which can become inflamed where the tendon (part of the muscle) attaches to it.

Causes

Causes of shin splints can include flat feet, high arches, poor hip and knee control, excessive training, training on hard surfaces, a change in activity, poor footwear  or poor strength around the foot and ankle.

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy assessment will aim to determine the cause of the shin splints in order for management to be effectively directed. Your physiotherapist will advise on how to modify activity, in addition to addressing any weakness or tightness thought to be contributing. However, the time taken for shin splints to resolve can vary from individual to individual.

It is very important to get suspected shin splints assessed by a physiotherapist or doctor, as leaving it can result in small fractures which will only prolong the rehabilitation period and prevent you from getting back to running!

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