What to do about Shin Splints? | Nose Creek Physiotherapy
Blair Schachterle Health Tips

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What to do about Shin Splints?

Shin splints is a common term used to describe pain on the anterior/medial shinbone area. It’s often the result of doing too much, too soon with activity.

The muscles such as the inside of the lower leg and the calf muscles can become overworked and their repetitive contraction can result in inflammation.

Risk Factors Include:

  1. Increasing mileage too quickly (should never increase by more than 10% per week),
  2. Running on hard surfaces or along the road camber (so that you are running on a tilted surface), and
  3. Having a really rigid foot due to the decreased ability to absorb shock (forcing the bones higher up to absorb more of the load).

Shin pain is an extremely common complaint among athletes and active individuals. Commonly experienced by runners in particular, it’s an important condition to pay close attention to.

Three things involved with Shin Pain:

  1. Bone Stress – a continuum of increased bone damage that exists from bone strain, stress reaction and even stress fracture.
  2. Inflammation – which develops at the insertion of muscles, particularly at the base and the outside of the tibia.
  3. Raised Pressure – a result of overuse and inflammation, causing the muscles to become swollen and painful.

These three abnormalities can be identified by history, examination and further investigation. It’s important to understand that usually these abnormalities exist together in most cases.

How are these abnormalities examined?

A Physiotherapist examines shin pain in a number of steps. They begin with a palpation of maximum tenderness and assess the consistency of the soft tissue. They then continue to the following:

  • Standing, Walking and Lying. 

Active Movements:

  • Plantarflexion (toes pointed downwards)
  • Dorsiflexion (toes pointed upwards)

Passive Movements:

  • Plantarflexion (toes pointed downwards)
  • Dorsiflexion (toes pointed upwards)


Depending on the initial cause of the injury, looking into getting an a powerstep orthotics would be beneficial for decreasing shin pain. If that does not fully resolve the mechanical issues, then some of our patients do require an orthotic, which is a stiffer version on the orthotics.

As for training, it’s recommended to decrease walking and running to a point where there is no pain with activity (this may mean taking a break from these activities completely and do cycling or swimming in the meantime).

If someone is a runner and has had issues with shin pain, they are encouraged to run on even, softer surfaces such as grass. Stretching muscles, such as the calves and the tibialis anterior (muscle in front of the shin) is important too.

Recommended Stretch for Shin Splints:
Seated Shin Stretch:

  1. Kneel down sitting on your heels.
  2. Gently push down on the heels to stretch the front of the leg.
  3. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
  4. To increase the stretch, do one leg at a time and lift up the knee of the stretching leg.

Alternate Stretch:

if that stretch bothers your ankles due to previous injury, then you can get into a stride stance and point your toes into the floor of the back leg, and simply and lightly lunge forward to create a toe/foot down position that will give you a stretch in your front shin.
Lunge Stretch

If you are still experiencing pain, we have a team of trained staff to take a look at your injury and give you the best remedy and proactive plan for future activity.  Give us a call at 403 275-7728, and ask for Grace our running physiotherapist.

Reference: http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/sport-injuries/ankle-achilles-shin-pain/shin-splints/shin-splints-stretching-exercises
Blair Schachterle
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