Shin splints, otherwise known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) are one of the most common lower limb overuse injuries. It is most common in people that participate in recurrent high impact exercises such as running.
Generally, signs and symptoms include pain and tenderness around the front and inside part of the shin. The pain is usually described as a dull ache which can progressively increase during exercise. The exact mechanisms of MTSS are thought to be due to inflammation of the outer portion of the tibia (tibial periostitis). Furthermore, other contributing factors may include tendinopathies and a stress reaction of the tibia itself.
Pain can be felt before or after exercise but is most commonly aggravated during high impact exercises. MTSS can progressively get worse unless the underlying causes are addressed.
So what can we do about it?
Like anything, there is rarely ever a single best solution to treat MTSS and with each case likely due to a number of different factors, this requires a number of different approaches.
As a basic guide:
- Consider your training loads. Have you recently increased to higher loads? Try reducing your training 40% of what you are currently doing and slowly build up in 10% lots every week.
- Strengthen your calf muscles specifically
- Strengthen all lower limb muscles generally
- Ensure adequate hydration
- Find a physiotherapist to help you with specific impairments and biomechanical factors.
If you have been suffering with shin splints, get in touch with a physiotherapist who will run through a thorough physical examination including a gait analysis and biomechanical assessment to help uncover the underlying causes.