‘Shin splints’ is the common term for medial tibial stress syndrome. It refers to pain felt anywhere along the shinbone from knee to ankle.
Pain felt on the inner side of the shinbone is called ‘medial shin splints’, while the term ‘anterior shin splints’ refers to pain felt on the outer side
People who play sports that involve a lot of running are particularly prone to this injury.
- Aches and pains are felt along the shinbone.
- The area is tender and sore to touch.
- The overlying skin may be red and inflamed.
- The pain may be felt before, during or after running.
- Overuse – exercising too hard or trying to exercise beyond your current level of fitness can strain muscles, tendons, bones and joints. Overuse is one of the most common causes of shin splints.
- Flat feet (‘rolling’ the feet inwards) – the shin muscles are involved in maintaining the instep or arch of the foot. Flat feet (excessive pronation) can pull at the shin tendons and cause painful tearing of these soft tissues.
- High impact activities – the impact of running on hard or uneven surfaces can injure the shin muscles and tendons.
- Running shoes – wearing the wrong type of shoe while running can contribute to shin splints.
Podiatrists are able to treat shin splints effectively. Treatment may include realigning the foot with respect to the leg (using orthotic shoe inserts) to improve the efficiency of mechanics. This reduces the abnormal forces to the respective muscle groups along with better shock absorption.
Other treatments may include:
- Ice Therapy
- Anti-inflammatory Medication
- Stretching & strengthening excercises
- Use a neoprene sleeve (FS06 Compression Sleeve) to support and warm your leg.
- Footwear advice and/or modification
- Dry Needling
- Rare cases need surgery, such as if you have a stress fracture causing your shin splints.
It is important to assess the biomechanics of the lower limb and foot to determine any factors that may predispose you to poor shock absorption or musculature imbalance.
An in depth analysis is required to assess foot motion with respect to the lower limb, along with assessing range of motion to determine any muscle tightness. The biomechanical observations can give clues to whether any of the muscles are being overworked or fatigued.