Shin Splints

Shin Splints officially know as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) is a painful condition usually presenting in the front of your shin.

Pain is caused by swelling and inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and the tibia bone (shin) itself.

It is often related to an increase in activity and over-use.

Alignment in walking and running gait can contribute to the condition and make some people much more susceptible to suffering from it.

First treatment is to rest, apply ice, and gently stretch the muscles of the lower leg (calves).


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A man holds his leg in pain
A diagram of the legs and where shin splints will be felt

Where Do They Occur

Shin Splints occur in the lower part of the legs (the shins) along the bone.

Posterior shin splints will be felt on the medial (inside) of the shin and anterior shin splints will be felt on the latero/anterior part of the shin.

This is because they occur where muscles attach to the shin bone.

Shin splints occur in the outer coating of the tibial bones (the periosteum) where the muscles of Tibialis Anterior and Tibialis Posterior attach to the outside of the shin bone.

These muscles are used a lot during running or other high impact weight bearing activities such as dancing or marching with high loads such as in the military.


Why Do Shin Splints Happen?

Shin Splints are an over-use injury and are the earlier phase of stress fractures.

In a stress fracture the repeated trauma to the bone is great enough to cause a crack which can become a full-blown fracture.

Stress fractures tend to occur when there has been a sudden increase in the intensity, or the volume of activity especially running.

The amount of bone that the body can repair each day is overtaken by the amount being broken down by the activity.

This is why rest is a very important part of early treatment of shin splints.

After the condition has stabilised, it is important to get back to activity, but in a very controlled and steady way.

We can help in the treatment of shin splints and also in the recovery by helping you to create a plan to reach your exercise goals.


A woman walking on the high tech SMT treadmill for gait assessment

Treatment and Recovery to Activity

So the first line of treatment will be basic sports medicine including:

  • Rest (crucial in early stages),
  • Ice,
  • Elevation,
  • Possibly splinting (in a boot – dependent on the severity)

Then we look at what factors are the most likely to have contributed to your condition which mainly fall into two categories:

  • Biomechanical (your inherent musculo-skeletal alignment),
  • and Activity load.

If there is a biomechanical component contributing to your condition we are likely to recommend custom foot orthotics to help you to get back to full activity with less chance of the injury recurring.

To read more about custom foot orthotics click here.



The Good Stuff - Building Resilience

Once we have pain under control many of us will go too hard with activity thinking that everything will be okay.

You need to be aware that after a period of rest, you will lose some of the strength in the your muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons.

So the next thing to do is to build some resilience so that the injury is much less likely to recur.

The key to doing this? Very systematic, building of load to get you back to the level of activity you were before and beyond.

We work with you to help you hit your goals.

Our podiatrists can help you to design a programme to ensure that you safely rebuild tissue in your bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons.


Call: 3351 8878

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