Shin splints

What exactly is a shin splint?

Shin splints, which are also called medial tibial stress syndrome, are non-specific pain that occurs in the lower legs when running. The cause of the shin splints is stress in the area of the tibia and stress on the connective tissue that connects the lower leg muscles to the tibia. 

 

The most common risk factors for the development of running lower leg are: 

  • flat feet 
  • inadequate shoes when running 
  • running without warmup 
  • no exercise for flexibility and mobility after running
  • limited range of movement in the ankle
  • weak muscles of the core, quadriceps, hamstrings, and lower legs
 

The most at risk of developing shin splints are professional runners, recreational runners, dancers, and soldiers. 

Shin splints
Trkačka potkoljenica mjesta boli

Symptoms and diagnostics of shin splints

Symptoms:

  • pain in the area of the tibia (shinbone) that increases when running
  • sharp and dull pain in the lower leg area
  • pain that intensifies when pressing on the painful area of the lower leg
  • sensitivity on the inner side of the tibia
  • mild swelling 
  • pronounced tension of the musculature of the front of the lower leg

 

Diagnostics:

  • medical history - to determine if there is an old injury or deficit in the lower leg area
  • clinical examination - the physiotherapist or the doctor will determine the level of pain in the lower leg and which tests or treatments should be done further
  • X-ray - is used to check if there is a stress fracture in the tibia
  • MRI - confirms (non)presence of stress fracture 
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Physical therapy and rehabilitation

Goals of physical therapy in the running lower leg:

  • reduce / eliminate pain in the lower leg area
  • reduce / eliminate swelling in the lower leg
  • increase load tolerance on the lower leg 
  • maximally increase the strength of the muscles of the legs and trunk 
  • progressively introduce the runner / recreationist back into the running activity 
 
Types of therapy and their action: 
  • dry needling - serves to release the tension of the muscles on the front of the lower leg and stimulate tissue regeneration in the inflammation area
  • medical flossing - by applying elastic bands on the lower leg itself, we reduce pain in the inflamed area and increase the flow of "fresh" circulation and thus tissue regeneration itself
  • kinesiotaping - serves as an auxiliary technique to maintain and enhance the effects of dry needling, medical flossing and targeted therapeutic exercises 
  • flexibility exercises - as we increase the flexibility of the lower leg muscles, we reduce muscle tension and compression in the tibia
  • strengthening exercises - we aim to strengthen the muscles of the legs and core in order to reduce the chances of re-emergence of shin splints
 
Trkačka potkoljenica vježbe
FAQ

Frequently asked questions about shin splints:

Depending on how long you are willing to stop running will depend on whether the problem can recede on its own without any intervention. Shin splints syndrome sometimes takes as much as 3 to 6 months to heal! 

A faster and more effective option would be to visit a physiotherapist who will significantly speed up the rehabilitation process.

Concrete, artificial grass, and similar unfavorable surfaces, especially in combination with poor footwear, significantly increase the chances of developing shin splints. 

If possible, it is necessary to run in adequate footwear on an adequate surface such as a race track or natural grass. 

You will know that you are completely ready to run when:

  • your injured leg is as flexible as a healthy leg
  • your injured leg is as strong as a healthy leg
  • you can press strongly on points that were painful without feeling pain
  • you can run, sprint and jump without pain 
Feel free to attach the report of a specialist doctor
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