Sports Injury Focus – Shin Splints

Signs and Symptoms:

Pain on the inside of the shin bone – usually appears gradually and gets worse the more running or waking on a hard surface that you do. Excessive walking in poor fitting shoes ( like flip flops) can sometimes also lead to shin splints.

* Week 1 

Complete rest is advised for the athlete.
Speak to the GP about anti-inflammatories and apply ice regularly to the damaged shinbone.

In this phase it’s important to check trainers for “wear” and loss of support. Also, consider custom orthotics that are proven to reduce the effects of shin splints and limit pain during exercise.

Athlete can cycle, swim, cross trainer and rowing machine to maintain CV fitness. Running is to be avoided at all costs.

From a Physio point of view – deep massage of the calf and Achilles muscles is urgent as is stretching of both. Sometimes strapping can be of help. Consider dry needling as a treatment modality as well.

* Week 2 

Continue with ice and rest from cycling or running. 

Swimming is encouraged and the rower is also possible and unlikely to reproduce any pain in the shin. If it does, stop. 

Continue with gluteal and core exercises and stretching in the gym. 

From a Physio point of view – deep therapeutic massage of the whole leg is vital and will continue x3 daily, immediately followed by passive and active stretching. 

* Week 3 

Consider gradual return to running. Note: Treadmill running is advised first due to less impact. All other fitness options are continued and core/pilates is increased.

From a Physio point of view – athlete continues to receive deep tissue massage, PNF stretching and hands on work to the leg and also the lower back region as a prophylaxis.

* Week 4 

Continue with ice.

Insert custom orthotics and begin gradual return to pre-injury activity.

Athlete will continue to apply ice immediately after any running for at least 6 weeks.

Core and pilates exercises maintained, as is all strength and flexibility work to the surrounding muscle groups.

From a Physio point of view – deep therapeutic massage of the calf muscle and surrounding muscles continues for approximately 2-3 weeks.

Review of recovery: 

Complete rest from running needed early on.

Stretch and massaging of calf and Achilles is pivotal to the successful recovery. As is doing the right core, Pilates and gluteal strength and control exercises.

Secret Tip(s): 

Check your trainers and change them every 3 months, consider custom foot orthotics and ice packs is the best thing that you can be doing to help your self with shin splints.

You must also be doing regular core control and back strength exercises, too. Let your Physio do everything else.

Do not be fooled by the absence of pain when you rest. Shin Splints are likely to only be painful in a weight-bearing situation (such as running or excessive walking).

Note: Return to running progressively and start with treadmill –> grass –> sand –> road.

If you’d like more info on this, and some further easy, actionable tips on other sports injuries too. We have a free guide that we can send you. Connect with us on 020 87474 029 (Chiswick) , 020 87887 804 (Putney) or email us and tell us what’s going on.

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Leslie Abrahams

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