A commonly reported problem by many patients we see is “shin splints”, or medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). This is usually described as a general pain on the inside of the lower shin which is typically felt at the beginning of activity and improves after warming up.
But what is MTSS really, and what is the cause? There has been a reasonable debate regarding these questions, however, it is commonly thought to be a combination of increased stress on our shin bone (the tibia) and excessive traction of the muscles which attach onto this bone over time. Numerous factors have been reported in MTSS including training load, training surface, footwear, muscle length and muscle fatigue. Female athletes and those with lower bone mineral density are also more likely to develop MTSS.
We typically find that the symptoms of MTSS can be treated with a number of options. Some short-term options include reducing activity intensity or load (or changing the type of activity), releasing the muscles on the inside of the shin, and using taping techniques to support the inside of our foot to reduce the impact of running. Ice can also be an effective reliever of symptoms after activity.
Please find this video example of the self-release technique for shin splints:
We find longer term however, increasing the strength and endurance of the involved muscles is a more sustainable option coupled with managing training loads!
Speak to one of our physiotherapists about your shin pain and they can help develop a suitable plan for you.
Sports Physiotherapy Adelaide
Brukner & Khan (2017), Brukner & Khan’s Clinical Sport Medicine (5th Edition), Volume 1, Injuries