Have you heard of shin splints? You may even have been told you have them yourself. It’s a term often used to describe exercise-induced stress reactions upon the lower leg structures. These structures include bone, muscle, tendon and connective tissue. They are generally associated with overuse which is a common problem among runners.

The area that is most frequently affected is where anterior tibial muscles anchor into the lower third of the shin bone. These muscles decelerate the foot when the heel strikes, and can be overused when running on hard surfaces or when over striding. As well as decelerating the foot slap at the heel strike, the anterior tibial muscles counter any excess pronatory forces. Runners with pronated feet therefore stress the anterior tibial muscles far more than neutral runners.

What causes Shin Splints?
The biomechanics and your physiology, or, simply put, just the way you are. Your feet biomechanics and the degree of mobility you have in your foot and joints will determine how likely you are to encounter this.

What can you do to avoid them?
Whether you are a pronator, supinator or neutral runner it’s vital to choose the correct running shoes to suit you, also bearing in mind your weight and your weekly mileage. Personalising your shoes with tailor made orthotics to give correct alignment and posture will also be hugely beneficial.

As with many other injuries a sudden increase in mileage can also trigger Shin Splints.

Top tips for treatment
There are many things you can do to remedy the problem.

  • Immediately after completing a run, ice your shins for 10 mins. Stick to 10mins as icing for too long will slow down or stop any natural healing reaction from the body. Repeat 2 – 3 times a day.
  • As with all overuse injuries, try to rest or slow down your training.
  • Consult a physiotherapist who is accustomed to runner’s problems.
  • If you have had the problem for more than six weeks, or if you suffer from recurrent Shin Splints, it is likely that you have a biomechanical problem that will require biomechanical and gait analysis. Custom made orthotics will provide you with the required correction.