Pain in the shin
Mike Walden provides seven tips that might help prevent you from experiencing shin splints.
What are shin splints?
"Shin splints" is the general name given to pain at the front of
the lower leg. It is not a diagnosis in itself but a description of symptoms of
which there could be several causes. The most common cause is inflammation
of the periosteum of the tibia (sheath surrounding the bone). Traction forces
occur from the muscles of the lower leg on the perioseium causing pain and
Tips to prevent shin splints
Several things may contribute to shin pain, and
below I have outlined seven simple tips to help avoid sore shins this summer.
- Gradually introduce track or hard surface training. Limit
training on hard surfaces - particularly at this time of year when many track
runners will increase the amount of time spent on the track. Constant pounding
on hard surfaces will send shock waves up the leg and increase the strain on
the soft tissues. Too much running on the toes (essential for sprinters) may
over-stress the muscles of the lower leg and increase the chance of developing
- Wear shock-absorbing insoles such as the Sorbothane prosole
which are designed to fit in running spikes. They will reduce impact and shock
vibrations transferred up the lower leg to the soft tissues. Also, ensure your
running shoes/spikes are in good condition. A running shoe will lose a lot of
its shock-absorbing capacity after 400 miles of running or six months.
- Over-pronation or other biomechanical foot problems may also
increase your chances of developing shin pain. As the foot rolls in the
lower leg rotates inwards, again, increasing the forces on the lower leg. If
you suspect over-pronation or 'flat feet' to be a problem, then see a podiatrist
who can give a full biomechanical assessment and recommend orthotic type
insoles to correct the problem. It is as important, if not more important,
to correct foot motion at all times - not just when training.
- Stretch the calf and other lower leg muscles. The tension in these
muscles is a common contributor to shin splints and keeping these muscles
flexible and in good condition is essential so they can cope with the forces
demanded of them.
- Get a regular sports massage. Regular deep tissue massage can
work wonders in helping to keep the muscles of the lower leg in good condition.
A good therapist will identify tight knots, lumps, bumps and areas of tension
long before they may develop into an injury.
- Apply ice after training. Suppose you feel at risk of developing sore shins. In that case, applying ice or cold therapy after each training session for 10 to 15 minutes can help keep any inflammation under control before it develops further.
- Tape the shins. A simple taping technique exists that can help
to support the lower leg and relieve shin pain. Do not rely on this alone long
term if you have an injury, but it can be useful in helping tissues to recover
from hard training.
If you do develop shin pain, then see a specialist who can advise
on treatment and rehabilitation.
This article first appeared in:
- WALDEN, M. (2006) A pain in the shin. Brian Mackenzie's Successful Coaching, (ISSN 1745-7513/ 33/ June), p. 7
If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:
- WALDEN, M. (2006) A pain in the shin [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/scni33a5.htm [Accessed
About the Author
Mike Walden gained a degree in Physical Education, sports science and physics from Loughborough University and competed at the national level in the Decathlon. Following University, he went on to do a Diploma in Fitness training and sports therapy. He ran his sports injury clinic for five years before completing a PGCE and moving into teaching.