With the weather warming up, you can FEEL the motivation in the air to get out and exercise. For a lot of people this feels AMAZING to shake off the winter aches, and feel ALIVE again.
And then there's the people who head out for a walk of a jog, and within a few hours, start to regret that decision as their shins start to ache........dreaded SHIN SPLINTS!?*#!
What is it?
Pain in your shins (lower leg at the front). Your shin is made up of the tibia bone, and is surrounded by your calf and foot muscles. These muscles play a big part in walking/running by absorbing force and making sure you don't fall over
What causes shin splints?
To keep things simple, let's think about this as two main causes of shin splints (keeping in mind that NOTHING in the human body is really simple)
1) Poor control of impact - that means you land heavily on the ground, and instead of your muscles, ligaments and tendons "attenuating" (absorbing and distributing) the force, there is jarring of your bones and joints (shins and knees in particular), which becomes painful if it happens too often.
2) Tight muscles - if your lower leg muscles are really tight, they pull on the connective tissue that attaches the muscle to the bone, and this tension leads to cause pain (this is the simple version of the story). Muscles may be tight because they are weak (and working very hard), or because another nearby muscle is weak/underactive, and the lower leg muscles are compensating.
What can I do about it?
Figure out WHY you have shin pain. A physiotherapist can help you do this. As soon as we know why you have pain, you can start working on changing that. Shin pain is the VICTIM in this scenario, not the culprit.
Short term treatment: to ease the pain you can apply ice to your shins at the end of the day, and reduce the amount of walking/running you're doing.
Generally the following exercises will contribute to improving your situation, but it's important to be assessed properly so you don't waste your time with the wrong exercises:
Calf stretches - total of 4 minutes per day per muscle (e.g. 1min 4x/day per muscle)
Tibialis Anterior stretch - total of 4 minutes per day per muscle (e.g. 1min 4x/day per muscle)
Calf raises - build up until you can do 3 sets of x30 reps each leg - see video below
Consciously adjust your walking/running pattern to 'land lighter'. Strengthening your calves will really help you do this.
How quickly can I expect to get back to normal exercise?
As always: the longer it's been there, the longer it'll take to get better.
Sorry no simple answer for this one, but basically SEEK HELP EARLY so you can get on the right track ASAP. You should see improvements within a week or so if you're doing the right exercises for your particular situation.
When should I seek help?
If you start to feel pain in your shins, try to do a bit less walking/running for 48 hours.
Rest doesn't help
You continue to have pain after 4 days
You keep getting flare-ups everytime you try to exercise
then come in and see us. It may only take 1-2 appointments to teach you what you need to do. Check out this blog article on 'When should I see a physio' for a bit more info
If you have a question you'd like us to answer, email us here, or you can book your appointment online here or call us 8376 8816 - we'd love to get you on the right track. You can read about us here
Aspire Physiotherapy SA
16 Partridge St Glenelg