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What are shin splints?

The term shin splints is often used to describe generalised pain during or after activity in the lower leg region.

There are usually three pathological processes:

  1. Bone stress – continuum of increased bone damage exists from bone strain to stress reaction to stress fracture.
  2. Inflammation – develops at the insertion of muscles, particularly tibialis posterior, tibialis anterior and soleus, and fascia to the medial border of the tibia.
  3. Raised intracompartmental pressure – the lower leg has a number of muscle compartments, each enveloped by a thick inelastic fascia. As a result of overuse/inflammation the muscle compartments may become swollen and painful.

What are some of the causes of shin splints?

  • Excessive rolling in of the feet (excessive pronation)
  • Rigid high arched foot (poor shock absorption)
  • Muscle imbalance between posterior and anterior lower leg muscles
  • Playing sport on hard surfaces
  • Poor conditioning for level of activity
  • Over training
  • Incorrect, inadequate or worn out footwear

What is the treatment for shin splints?

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  • Activity modification
  • Ice
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Foot strapping
  • Footwear review/recommendation
  • Orthotics
  • Stretching/strengthening exercises
  • Physical therapy