What are Shin Splints? Symptoms, Causes, and What to Do!

shin splint causes

"Can arch support insoles really relieve my shin splints?". This is an extremely common question asked by people who develop shin splints.

Frequently, arch support insoles are recommended for people suffering with shin splints.

However, the choice of insole can vary based on foot type, as well as the actual cause of the condition.

One of the keys to correctly choosing an insole is first understanding what "shin splints" are, and why they develop in many active individuals.

What Are Shin Splints?

Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome, is a common injury induced by intensive exercise, such as prolonged running, vigorous sports or excessive physical activity. This condition can affect athletes of all levels and is characterized by a distinct pain in the lower leg, between the ankle and knee.

Shin splints are especially common among runners, aerobic dancers, military recruits and people with flat feet. Shin splints are specifically an inflammation of the deep connective muscle tissue that is attached to the inner border of tibia or shinbone.

It is a common misconception that the best approach when suffering with shin splints is to "run through the pain". However, ignoring the injury can lead to potentially more serious conditions, such as a stress fracture.

What Causes Shin Splints

Shin splints are caused by an overload of the muscles, tendons and other connective tissue of the lower extremities. The muscle attached to the two leg bones, the tibia and fibula, can become inflamed when overworked, thus causing intense pain in the shin area.

This condition is most often induced by prolonged and repetitive flexing and impact of the leg muscles. Exercises, such as jogging, walking, tennis, aerobics, dance and weight lifting activities, can involve constant pounding on the feet and legs.

The impact, and therefore the development of shin splints, can be worsened by running on inclined, uneven or hard surfaces.

Other factors that can contribute to shin splints include:

-Biomechanical irregularities, such as overpronation, flatfeet or low arches
-Sudden changes in the intensity or duration of a physical activity
-Exercising or walking with improperly-fitting or worn-out shoes without foot support

Shin Splint Symptoms

In certain athletes, the symptoms of shin splints can be triggered after vigorous and prolonged activity. The most common symptom of shin splints is pain along the border of the shinbone.

In some cases, there also may be mild swelling in this area. Often, pain appears in the early stages of a workout, gradually decreasing mid-way through the session, only to reappear at the end.

The pain may be dull and achy initially. Eventually, with repetitive exertion and trauma, the inflammation can worsen to the point where running, walking or normal weight bearing can become extremely painful.

An athlete with shin splints might be forced to stop workouts altogether until the condition improves.

What To Do For Shin Splints (Is There a Shin Splints Cure)?

Treatment of shin splints depends primarily on the cause of pain and discomfort, as well as the severity of symptoms.

Shin splints can progress into a stress fracture if not treated properly. In most cases, shin splints can heal completely with appropriate remedial care. A doctor might suggest one or more of the following:

-Orthotic shoe inserts to address foot pronation and stabilize the foot and ankle area

-Rest, ranging from weeks to few months, depending on the severity

-Ice application to provide relief from pain and swelling

-Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications

-Stretching exercises to reduce stiffness in the calf muscles

-Wearing appropriate footwear with proper cushioning

-Physical therapy

With proper care and treatment, shin splints can be resolved completely. The key to prevention is by gradually easing into a physical activity or sport rather than rushing back.

How Do I Pick the Right Orthotic Shoe Insert for Shin Splints?

For something that affects so many people, shin splints aren't talked about often enough. Shin splints can be serious enough to make the simple act of exercising tough for anyone - regardless of age and fitness.

For many, the answer is orthotic shoe inserts, sometimes custom-made by a podiatrist. These cost hundreds of dollars, and can often end up limiting the types of shoes you can wear.

However, shin splints can also be addressed with a pair of over-the-counter orthotic shoe inserts. Not only do they average a tenth of the cost, but they are available in many different shapes and sizes, so you don't have to get rid of what's in your closet.

It's also important to understand cushioning alone may not be the answer! While you would think a cushioned shoe insert is what would be needed, a more supportive orthotic insert that supports the arch and stabilizes the foot is actually what's needed to relieve shin splint pain!

It sounds a little too good to be true, but once you understand how to treat shin splints, and how a good orthotic helps, you'll start to see why the solution doesn't have to break the bank.

Our Top 5 Shin Splints Orthotics for 2022

orthotics for flat feet

🏆  Our 2022 Top Pick

#1- Samurai Insoles Ninjas 

Why are Samurai Insoles Ninjas our top pick for 2022 for shin splints?

 

✔️ Design: Samurai Insoles Ninjas are one of the few products on the market that are an ACTUAL ORTHOTIC that is not super rigid. This gives your feet the support they need to comfortably relieve shin splint pain.

They also can be worn in ANY shoe with a removable insole, giving you the flexibility of using them in many types of shoes! And the best part?

Because they aren't an insole made of foam and fabric, they last SO LONG!

There isn't anything to wear out, just put them under the factory insoles of a new pair of shoes and you're good to go.

✔️ Price: At $29.99 these are an absolute steal!  Custom orthotics for plantar fasciitis can easily cost more than $500. For less than 1/10 the price, these are nearly as good.

✔️ One Year Warranty: Samurai Insoles Ninjas have a one year warranty! No other product we reviewed even comes CLOSE to this. Wow!

✔️ Made in the USA: Samurai Insoles are made in an orthotic lab in the USA. The fact that an American made orthotic can be purchased for under $30 still amazes us.

 

 

 

#2- Protalus Insoles M100 Max Series

If you've been on the internet in the last year, you haven't sneezed without seeing a Protalus ad. They are comfy and can be very beneficial for shin splints. Protalus' hefty price tag remains their biggest negative.
✔️ Design: Protalus "kind of" has an orthotic merged with an insole. Protalus took a different approach by combining a thick piece of plastic on the bottom of the insole, instead of inside. This definitely does the job, but it also makes them thicker than Samurai Insoles, reducing the choices of shoes they'll fit in well.

❌ Price: Here's the problem with Protalus; they're so expensive! At the time of writing this the current retail is $59.95. Oof. For that kind of money you'd better REALLY love them. It also reduces the chances you'd buy a whole bunch of them to put in all of your shoes.

✔️ 90 Warranty: Protalus products have a 90 day warranty.  It's not one year like the Samurai Insoles Ninjas, but better than nothing...

❌ Made in the USA: Protalus insoles are NOT made in the USA unfortunately. For the price we had hoped they were.

#3- Superfeet Green Insoles

Superfeet have been around a LONG time. They got their start being sold in retail sporting goods stores, and have transitioned to selling online in recent years, but this has presented the company with some challenges.

✔️ Design: If you've checked out the Protalus design, just know that the Superfeet did it first. They were one of the first to incorporate an orthotic plastic layer on the outside of the insole. Once again, this does the job, but it also makes them thicker than the Samurai, reducing the choices of shoes they'll fit well in.

✔️ Price: Superfeet are borderline in the pricey range, current retail at the time of writing this article is $49.95.

✔️ 60 Day Warranty: Superfeet green insoles come with a 60 day warranty, significantly less than Samurai Insoles Ninjas or Protalus products.

 Made in the USA: Superfeet are not made in the USA unfortunately. Once again, for this price we had hoped they would be.

#4- Dr. Scholl's Custom fit Orthotic Inserts

✔️ Design: Not a full length insole, but still designed to be placed on top of your shoes factory insoles, which may make it difficult for some people to adjust to the feel of this. Once again, Dr. Scholl's Custom Fit combine a thick piece of plastic to the bottom of the insole, instead of inside.

 Price: Dr. Scholl's Custom fit Orthotic Inserts currently are our second most expensive selection.  At the time of this article they are $49.96 retail price.

✔️ 90 Day Warranty: Dr. Scholls Custom Fit Orthotic Inserts have a 90 day warranty. 

 Made in the USA: Dr. Scholl's "Custom fit" Orthotic Inserts are not made in the USA unfortunately.

#5- Dr. Scholl's Plantar Fasciitis Orthotics

 Design: Well, unfortunately, there isn't much of one. Dr. Scholl’s Pain Relief Orthotics for Plantar Fasciitis are a very thin insole with a *very* thin piece of plastic glued to the bottom. It's unclear how much weight they can hold before flattening out, but by the looks of it, not much.

✔️ Price: Well, they are affordable at $31.00! 

✔️ 90 Day Warranty: Dr. Scholl’s Plantar Fasciitis Orthotics have a 90 day warranty. 

 Made in the USA: Dr. Scholl's Pain Relief Orthotic Inserts are not made in the USA unfortunately.

 

Whichever you choose to fight your shin splints pain, choose now!

The longer you allow shin splint pain to linger, the harder it is to get rid of, and the longer it will take!

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