Shin Splints Expert Interviews

Premiership physiotherapist Neal Reynolds talks about treating shin splints.

Neal Reynolds on shin splints

Shin splints is a massive topic and so many different things can cause pain at the shins.

In Neal's experience you don't tend to get something that starts on one specific day so initial treatment is a little different to something like a hamstring strain which is more sudden. Shin splints tends to build up more gradually. Then you get to a point when the pain gets too much.

It's quite hard with shin splints as the term itself is very broad. It's not really as it sounds - splints within the bone - it's usually more muscle related. In term of treatment the important thing is to stop as soon as you feel it. You need to ice and rest it, use compression, even normal socks will be better than nothing.

The main thing is determining what the cause of the pain is. From there on the treatment will depend on what the cause is. If it is biomechanical, there might only be a little soft tissue work and most of the treatment is focused on correcting the movement patterns. In other cases if it is a muscle injury then more soft tissue work will be used.

The biggest thing is to reduce your activity level. This allows the area to heal.

Podiatris Ian Saddler talks about the biomechanics of shin pain

Biomechanics and shin pain

Shin splints is usually caused by faulty biomechanics, i.e. how we move. Podiatrist Ian Sadler talks to us about shin splints and their causes. Ian also talks about compartment syndromes and the importance of the soleus muscle.

Shin splints is an umbrella term to describe shin pain. Pain on the outer shin is probably a form of compartment syndrome rather than shin splints. Pain on the inner shin bone is true shin splints. The soleus muscle is involved in developing shin splints at the muscle attachment on the Tibia.

Faulty biomachanics can increase the stress on the muscular attachment to the bone. The most common foot problem associated with shin splints is a very rapid overpronation of the foot. This can be corrected using insoles or orthotics, as well as through a rehabilitation program to length the calf muscles.

Premiership Football Physiotherapist Neal Reynolds talks about how to prevent shin splints and shin pain. 

Tips on preventing shin splints

Increase training gradually. Do not run too often on hard surfaces. You can do more training if you run off-road. Avoid running a lot on your toes. Not easy if you are a sprinter but varying the training surface can help.

Ensure you have the correct footwear and that it is not too old. A pair of running shoes will have lost most of their cushioning after 400 miles. If you run few miles but your shoes are over 6 months old then they still may need replacing. Check you do not overpronate. See a podiatrist or Sports injury therapist / Physiotherapist that can assess this.

Continue to stretch properly - especially the muscles at the back of the lower leg. Get a regular sports massage. This will help keep the muscles of the lower leg supple and in good condition.

Apply ice to the shin after training. This may help keep inflammation down before it gets bad. Wear a shock absorbing insole.

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