What is a shin splint?

      A "shin splint" is often used as a catch-all term for any discomfort in the lower leg.  Technically, though, it is an injury to one of the muscles of the lower leg at the point where it attaches to the lower leg bone (the tibia).  

      You can have an anterior shin splint, (which affects the muscles on the front of the leg) or a posterior shin splint, (which affects the muscles on the back of the leg).   

      What causes shin splints? 

      Shin splints can have several causes.  First, it is common in individuals with a biomechanical (foot function) problem--like with feet that flatten too much or when certain muscles of the leg are weak.  You can also get it from a structural problem--like when you have bowed legs. 

      Shin splints are also common from simple overuse.  Beginning runners or those who engage in sport activities without having sufficiently allowed their muscle tone to build up over a proper conditioning program, or whose conditioning program is too rigorous in the beginning, are prime candidates to develop shin splints.  Those who use a step machine in a gym, or a tread-mill--especially when it's set on an incline--also tend to get the condition.   

      Shin splints are also more common in overweight individuals, athletes, those who wear inappropriate shoes, and those who spend long hours on hard surfaces like concrete. 

    How can you treat shin splints? 

    Rest, ice, compression and elevation are often easy and effective treatments for this condition.  Anti-inflammatories, massage, taping, physiotherapy and massage can also be helpful short-term treatments. 

    If the condition is chronic, or if it's caused by a biomechanical abnormality, orthotic appliances, custom-made insert can be made for your shoes.  This is generally the best way to control the structural or biomechanical factors actually causing the condition.   

    For those with overuse injuries and athletes, modification in activities and training is required.  For overweight individuals and those who wear inappropriate shoes, these factors must be addressed to gain long-term relief of this condition. 



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The Achilles Foot Health Centre
S. A. Schumacher, D.P.M., F.A.C.F.A.S., F.A.C.F.A.O.M.  
Dr. S. A. Schumacher, Podiatric Corporation  

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