What is an Anterior Shin Splint?
This condition describes the pain on the outside portion of your shin.
With this condition, you’re likely to feel the discomfort/pain rise with increasing levels of lower limb activity (walking, jogging, running). As you warm up into the activity, you’re likely to feel somewhat better, prior to the pain/discomfort levels rising again until you need to stop your physical activity.
This condition is different to the more well-known shin-splint is called ‘medial shin splint’ which describes the pain on the inside portion of your shin.
This condition is also different to the anterior compartment syndrome of the lower leg.
What has caused this to happen?
The are a few factors which may lead to you developing an anterior shin splint. You may just be returning to your running after taking a period of rest. You may have increased your running speed or distance. It may be due to the fact that you’ve placed more hill-climbs in your workout in recent times.
However, one of the most common reason for you developing the anterior shin splint is due to a tight calf muscle.
Have a look at the picture below:
When we walk/jog/run, we need to lift up our toes as soon as the foot leaves the ground in order to ‘clear the ground’ so that we don’t trip over the ground.
When your calf muscles are tight, your shin muscle (tibialis anterior) needs to work extra hard to over the tightness of your tight calf muscle.
Can you see that with repetition, your front shin muscles are going to fatigue?
This is the reason for your discomfort/pain in your anterior/front shin region.
What do I need to do to get better?
Now you’ve understood the reason for your pain, give yourself an excuse to reduce your training volume for the next 2 weeks, while the muscles recover.
As you take this time of ‘rest’, be diligent to stretch and lengthen your calf muscles (see below).
We recommend 1 minute holds x 5 sets per day for stretches.
You can also spend similar time on a foam roller. The choice is yours. Just make sure you’re applying stimulus to your body which helps you lengthen the muscle.
Over the next weeks, you want to gradually return to your training volume and continually work on your calf muscles to prevent them from getting tight again.
How can a physio help?
As you’ve read, once your diagnosis is clear, the solution is quite simple.
Also, with hands-on therapy and individualised/guided exercise program, you can be back to enjoying your running/self-reward time much sooner.
Reach out for help if you need to. We’re always here to help and guide you.