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A Guide to Shin Splints

Shin splints are a pain experienced in the front of the lower leg or shin, they are common amongst runners and those who put weight on their legs during extended physical activity. It is best to avoid physical activity such as running until the injury has fully recovered. Shin splints are often caused by high impact stresses on the leg, an increase in exercise or possibly an overuse injury. Studies have suggested that irritation of the periosteum is a primary cause. A popular theory is that this could be caused by an increased Navicular drop/ flat foot, over pronation of the foot, increased ankle plantar-flexion and / or an increased hip external rotation. People who suffer from shin splints often experience acute pain down the front of the lower leg, along the tibia. The pain will result swelling or the inability to complete an exercise, the pain can last for up to several weeks. Medial Tibial stress syndrome is commonly seen in the military, runners, gymnasts, footballers and dancers. Immediate treatment should follow the PRICE method, the ideal solution is to then gradually increase muscle strength surrounding the area as well as hip internal rotators to decrease the external rotation of the hip. Wearing a compression sleeve, covering your shins may also decrease the amount of tension and pull on the tibia while running. Here at Firstaid4sport we recommend either a Mueller 330 Calf and Shin Support or the LP 778 Adjustable Shin & Calf Support. You may also find that wearing a good quality supportive insole beneficial. Recovery for shin splints is usually around two to four weeks, after this period most people will be ready to return to training and competing, however, if you are still experiencing pain be sure to seek professional medical advice. In order to prevent shin splints, you should be wearing shoes with the right support as well as training on flat ground and an increase in activity should be gradual. A thorough warm-up and cool-down before and after exercise are key to preventing injury.