Shin Splints – Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome

What Are Shin Splints?

Shin splints is a pain experienced in the front of the lower leg or shin. Shin splints are common among runners and those who put weight on their legs during extended physical activity.

Shin Splints Symptoms

People who are suffering from shin splints often experience acute pain down the front of the lower leg, along the Tibia. These symptoms can be really painful, resulting in swelling or the inability to complete an exercise, this pain can last for as much as a few weeks. Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome is often seen in the military, runners, gymnasts, footballers and dancers. Although it is very common in a wide range of sports.

Shin Splints Causes

Shin splints are often caused by high impact stresses on the legs, an increase in exercise or possibly an overuse injury. Although there is limited research available, studies suggest that the irritation of the periosteum (a tissue layer covering the bone) at the medial aspect of the tibia being a primary cause. A popular theory is that this could be caused by an increased Navicular drop/ flat foot, over pronation of the foot, increased ankle plantar-flexion and / or an increased hip external rotation.

Shin Splints Treatment

Immediate treatment is all about PRICE (Protection Rest Ice Compression Elevation). The ideal solution is to then gradually increase muscle strength surrounding the area as well as the hip internal rotators to decrease external rotation of the hip. This will also help to decrease OVER pronation of the foot. Wearing a compression sleeve, covering your shins may also decrease the amount of tension and pull on the tibia while running. We would recommend either the  Mueller 330 Calf and Shin Support or the LP 778 Adjustable Shin & Calf Support. Wearing good quality running shoes that work to correct any imbalance of the foot, or a supportive insole. Increasing the intensity and frequency of your training gradually to allow your body and tissue and structures to adjust.

Running With Shin Splints

It is best not to run if you experience shin splints. Instead, wait until you have recovered before taking up training again.

Shin Splints Recovery

Recovery for shin splints is usually around 2 to 4 weeks. After this you should be able to return to training. If you are still experiencing pain, make sure to see a professional as further treatment may be needed.

How To Prevent Shin Splints

To prevent shin splints, make sure you wear shoes with the right support, especially whilst taking part in sports. Aim to train on flat ground and if you are increasing your physical activity, do this gradually. Always warm up before exercise and cool down afterwards and consider improving your strength and flexibility which may also help to prevent shin splints.

It is important we distinguish the difference between shin splints and compartment syndrome or tibial stress fracture. All of these conditions result in similar symptoms which is why it is important to be examined by a medical professional to identify the cause of your issues.

To find out more about shin splints, amongst other conditions visit our friends at Physical Performance Therapy.

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