Why do I get sore shins?

Shin pain or shin splints are a common problem seen in active Australians. Dull throbbing along the front of the shin bone usually occurs during physical activity, and can seemingly occur out of nowhere. But what causes it and where do our feet become involved?

Shin splints are an overuse injury. Whether that involves a marathon runner training too hard for their upcoming race or a walker who is looking to add another walk to their weekly schedule, it occurs when the muscles and bones of the lower leg can no longer keep up. Our legs adapt to the load we put on them, and when we ask too much pain tends to be the result.

There are muscles in our leg that start on our shin bone and connect through to our arch. Their job is to stop our arch from collapsing when we put our body weight on it. Every step we take puts a large load on this muscle, which ordinarily is no problem. When we ask this muscle to work too hard too fast it leads to pain where the muscle attaches into the shin bone. This problem can be exacerbated if you have feet that roll in more than usual (stretches the muscle) or are wearing a pair of shoes with insufficient support (they no longer help the muscle take some of the load).

Shin splints can be well managed by firstly reducing your training load and giving yourself time to recover. Ice and anti-inflammatory medication is also helpful if the shins are particularly painful. Next we need to check if there is enough support under your feet. Do your shoes have enough support? If not a new pair is necessary, and if so they may need to be supplemented with further support from an orthotic device. Lastly it helps to identify whether there are any muscle imbalances that may be contributing, with the calf muscles being the most common culprit.

If you are having problems with recurring shin splints a podiatry visit is helpful to assess what the problem is and find the best course of action. Call our clinic at (07) 3823 5423 to book an appointment.