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  • Sarah Morton - Physio

Shin Splints - What are they?

A common injury in runners, shin splints can be resolved quickly with the correct diagnosis and treatment.

Shin splints is another term for Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS). The pain is felt along the lower third of the tibia or shin bone, on the inner side of the shin. Pain can also be present behind and under the inner/medial ankle bone, and there may be marked sensitivity to touch on the inner edge of the shin bone.

Shin splints are often worse at the beginning of a run, or when the tendons are not warmed up and are stiff. In the early stages of the injury, it may feel like the injury “warms up” with exercise and becomes less painful. However the pain may be worse when the body cools down again, or the next morning. As the injury worsens, running may become impossible, due to pain and weakness.

The cause of shin splints can be different for each person. However there are findings that are common to many cases.

Shin Splints is primarily an over-use injury.

As such, increases in mileage, or uneven terrain can increase strain on muscle attaching to the shin (tibialis posterior) and the bone lining that it attaches to (periosteum). This can cause pain and inflammation.

In some sufferers, the choice of foot wear means the foot’s biomechanics are not supported, and the tendon becomes overloaded.

In others, a pronated foot, with rear foot valgus or inverted talus can place the tendon on stretch. With increasing mileage this stress leads to injury.

Key facts about MTSS

1. It is an over use injury

2. Related to biomechanics (the control of the foot and entire leg during landing and push off)

3. It leads to pain at the junction of the inner calf muscle and the sin bone.

What you should do.

1. Treat the pain - reduce running load, ice, use a foam roller to massage, gentle stretches fo the calf.

2. Correct biomechanics - train the muscle control of the hip and feet to reduce roll-in, and maintain alignment. This mean gluteal exercises, and alignment exercises.

3. Give your foot the support it needs - have a running assessment, get the correct shoes, use orthotics/in-soles if you need them.

4. Dont increase mileage of speed too quickly! Let you muscles build up their strength.

5. If you have pain, get help quickly.

Get in touch if you need more information.

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