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).
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.
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
If the condition is chronic, or if it's
caused by a biomechanical abnormality,
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.