Tibial stress syndrome, more commonly known as shin splints, is a common complaint for runners and people doing running based sports such as football or netball.
This pain can be felt on the inner side of the shinbone is called ‘medial/posterior shin splints’, while the term ‘anterior shin splints’ refers to pain felt on the outer side.
Tibial stress syndrome occurs when the muscles and connective tissues attaching to the shin (tibia) become overloaded and the tibial periosteum (outer layer of the bone) becomes irritated and inflamed.
The most common form is Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome.
What causes shin splints?
It is important to identify the underlying cause of the irritation so that it may be addressed. Otherwise the irritation will continue to arise with load.
Common contributing factors for shin splines include:
Weakness or underutilisation in some muscles, particularly the gluteals/hip stabilisers and calf
Poor movement patterns or running technique
Training errors and poor load management
Tightness in some muscles, particularly in the calf
Poor mobility through the foot and ankle
How to treat shin splints and when to see a Physiotherapist?
The acute pain caused by irritation and inflammation can initially be settled down with relative rest, ice, anti-inflammatories and hands on treatments.
If you have been experiencing shin pain as described above for >1 week, you should seek treatment.
Your physiotherapist will assist you to reduce the acute pain as well as identifying the relevant contributing factors to your pain and address them with strengthening exercises, running drills/technique prompts, functional exercises and a load management plan.
The key to treating shin splints is working out the cause of you problem.
Often this presents in the clinic as someone who has recently increased their exercise load suddenly, or who is cramming in training for a competition that is very close in the calendar.
We also see it commonly in people who have old runners. The best and simplest thing you can try to do is to get a new pair of runners!
You also need to consider your calf muscle endurance capacity, as well as gluteal muscle capacity.
Recent research shows that the soleus, or deep calf muscle, has to deal with forces up to 8.71x our body weight, when running at 6.96metres/second. If you can't absorb shock in your muscles, something else has too, and that tends to be the bony-tendon junction- the periosteum.
Massage is frequently used to break apart any micro scarring that can occur, then it's back to the strength training to increase our bodies abliity to abosrob shock better. That's how you fix your shin splints with physiotherapy.
It's not difficult to fix your shin splints, and it usually repsonds really well to a solid and strategic strengthening regime, with an initial offload period and remedial massage.
Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy
Melbourne Sports Physio has a range of qualified and experienced professionals who can help provide ongoing support and treatment for shin splints.
Our friendly team are located in across Melbourne in Essendon, North Melbourne and Blackburn, and appointments can be made by calling 03 9498 0205 or booking online.