Shin pain when running? You could have shin splints!

As we approach the colder winter climate here in New Zealand, some us will start to struggle when it comes to staying active and continuing, or beginning, our exercise regimes. We don’t blame you – the temperatures are dropping, the rain is starting to set in and the mornings are getting dark. But when you DO find that motivation to go for a run, hit the gym, or engage in your favourite sport, the LAST thing you need is shin and leg pain stopping you in your tracks. Because shin pain affects many of us each year, we thought we’d tell you a little about it and what you can do to treat it and reduce the risk of it coming back or even starting! Let’s start with the basics:

It’s called shin splints

Well actually, it’s called medial tibial stress syndrome if we’re going to get technical. It’s often coined as “too much, too soon” because of the tendency of it develop when people suddenly increase their exercises intensity or duration without working up to it over time.

There’s a reason your symptoms have started

Shin splints would never occur without a cause, which is usually relatively simple to identify when we complete a biomechanical assessment and have a chat through your medical and exercise history. This is especially true if you’re a runner (or are attempting to be one!). Associated causes can include:
  • Lots of physical activity
  • Flat feet and pronation
  • Unsupportive or worn-out footwear
  • Issues with your foot biomechanics (mechanical functioning of the feet and legs as you move)
  • Tight or weak muscles

The pain can come and go

For some, the pain, tenderness and swelling around your shins can come and go with activity, as well as being worse in the mornings. Others may instead feel a persisting tenderness and discomfort. The pain tends to affect one leg, but can affect both. Regardless of what you are and aren’t experiencing, if you think you have shin splints or have developed shin pain, come and get it checked.

When it’s not shin splints…

Both stress fractures and compartment syndrome have similar symptoms with pain around the front of the lower leg. That makes it important to get the right diagnosis and treatment from an experienced podiatrist.

It’s about treating your symptoms and your cause

I feel we need to highlight the word ‘your’ because the experience of shin splints can be very different. Some will find it a temporary discomfort, while others may struggle to run and do the things they enjoy because of a crippling pain. That’s why treatment needs to be specific to your clinical assessment, goals, symptoms and circumstances. It also needs to address the initial cause of your shin splints to reduce the likelihood of it happening again in the future. Our podiatrists have years of experience in sports medicine and the biomechanics of the feet and legs, so will give you the best care to optimise your outcomes. Our goal is to help you exceed your goals and get you back to feeling your best! For more information or to book an appointment, you can give us a call on 09 523 2333 or book online