Shin splints or periostitis, are a painful inflammation of the periosteum – the dense outer layer of connective tissue lining bones – which occurs either along the inside or outside of the shin bone (tibialis). Shin splints have two causes. The most common cause is pronation, an inherited inward rolling motion of the foot. When a person who pronates engages in strenuous activity such as prolonged jumping or running, the muscles along the shin bone become so tightly pulled, that the periosteum becomes stressed and the muscles may tear away from the bone.
The other cause of shin splints is the “too much, too soon” syndrome: when people who have been sedentary for a while (and consequently have shortened muscles and tendons) suddenly jump into some high impact exercises. They force their muscles and tendons, to overstretch and irritate the periosteum.
If it has been determined that the cause of shin splints is biomechanical, an orthotic is necessary to get to the root of the problem. For all shin splints, physiotherapy such as ultrasound, laser and regular icing relieve the swelling, while a proper stretching/ strengthening program and a shock absorbing shoe help prevent a recurrence of the problem.