By definition, shin splints is a catchall term referring to leg pain brought about by running or jumping. “Shin splints” in and of itself is not a diagnosis; it is merely a collection of symptoms.
Shins splints fall into three main categories:
1. Strain, tendonitis, or periostitis
2. Stress fracture
3. Compartment syndrome
The most common cause of shin (leg) pain is medial tibia stress syndrome (MTSS). It is a strain, tendonitis, and/or periostitis evolving the tibialis posterior and/or soleus. Most of the pain is localized to the distal 1/3rd of the medial and posterior aspect of the leg.
The second leading cause of shin splints is due to a tibialis anterior strain. The pain is localized to the anterior and lateral aspect of the leg.
As mentioned, shin splints often results as an overuse injury in runners, dancers, gymnasts, or athletes involved in jumping or running. Often the athlete engages in impact on hard or uneven surfaces, increases mileage quickly, has a change in routine, or has poor footwear (or none at all.)
Prevention is key!
1. Warm up the lower leg muscles sufficiently
2. Ensure you’re wearing proper footwear whenever possible
3. Gradually increase the mileage or intensity of your training
1. RICE (ice massage)
2. Gentle stretching program
3. Taping the shin
4. Adjustments to foot and back as needed
5. Electrotherapy to decrease inflammation
6. Gentle soft tissue work
1. Adjustments as necessary
2. Aggressive stretching program
3. Deep tissue massage
4. Modify exercise program
5. Isometric and isotonic rehabilitation exercises
6. Possible compressive sleeve, or continued taping of area
Next in the series: Stress Fracture
Have a great week,
Dr. Crysta Serné
Vancouver Chiropractor and owner of Vitality Clinic