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Shin splints – causes, symptoms and prevention

Monday, May 13, 2013

Have you ever felt an uncomfortable shooting or throbbing pain around your lower leg while you were running or jogging? If you answered yes, you probably have shin splints! Shin splints are very common; in fact many of us will experience having the pain known as ‘shin splints’ in our lifetime.

What are shin splints?

It is a common belief that shin splints is a condition, however, shin splints is simply a term used to refer to any condition or underlying problem that may cause shin pain. There are three major causes of shin pain:

  1. Medial tibial stress syndrome
  2. Compartment syndrome
  3. Stress fractures

Many cases of shin splints are not easily diagnosed or classified as one condition, as there may be several problems affecting the lower leg and many conditions share the same symptoms.

How do shin splints occur? Is it a preventable injury?

Shin splints are most common among runners or anyone doing high impact exercise or sport. Exercising or training too hard, flat feet, incorrect or well-worn shoes, poor technique and form and running on hard surfaces are causes of the pain associated with shin splints.

Often overlooked, ensuring you warm up before exercising and cool down, including slow and controlled stretching is essential. Regular sports massage can also help loosen the muscles and tendons around the affected area.

Reconsider your training – running on grass rather than roads or paths can help make a difference to the pain you may be experiencing. If you train on an uneven surface, try looking for flat areas to exercise instead. Choosing less intense and low impact such as swimming or cycling training may be a welcome change to your aching shins.

Signs you may have shin splints

Some of the symptoms of the conditions associated with shin splints include: 

  • Pain during or after running or jogging
  • The area is sore to touch
  • Aching and pain along the shin bone
  • Skin around the area is swollen, red or inflamed

How can massage help with shin splints?

Having overly tight calf muscles and tendons drastically increases your chances of developing medial tibial stress syndrome, one of the major conditions associated with shin splints. If your muscles are stiff or tense, it is easier for them to be pushed beyond their current range of movement and cause pain, discomfort or injury. Regular massage can help restore your full range of movement, keep muscles relaxed and prevent further or future injuries from occurring.

If are concerned that your shin splints are ongoing and severe it is best to consult your doctor for a physical examination and x-ray of the leg. Your Logan massage therapist may be able to provide some advice as to the severity of the condition and suggest additional treatment regime options including ice, rest and anti-inflammatory drugs.





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