How to treat Shin Splints

Shin splinPhysiotherapy leg examts or Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) is easy to treat if the problem is caught early. If symptoms of pain along the inner border of the shin bone (tibia) goes on for too long then significant damage can occur to the muscle and bone bone coverings and the condition becomes chronic. Brighton physio, here at Sundial, James Masterson explains.

What can I do to help myself?

Rest and ice – Ice can be an extremely effective pain relief for shin splints as it acts as a local anesthetic by numbing sore muscle tissue. It also helps to slow down the inflammation and swelling process which occurs with injury.

Take down inflammation – Anti inflammatory medication may help to reduce any swelling and speed up your recovery time. Please consult your doctor before taking any medication.

Wear appropriate footwear!! – It may be beneficial to visit a specialist running shop where you can be advised about what might suit your needs. On average running shoes should be replaced when worn for between 300 and 600 miles, depending on factors such as body weight, running style and training surface. In some cases orthotics (inner soles) may be used to help abnormal loading throughout your lower limb and correct issues such as over-pronation and supination. More information on orthotics here.


What can the physio’s at Sundial do to help?

The first stages of rehabilitation may include advice to rest from aggravating activity for a while. We can give you ice packs to use of the first 2 day after the pain starts or is aggravated by the offending activity. We will help you switch to low impact exercise such as swimming and cycling and advise on how best to incorporate changes to maintain strength and fitness. Only in extreme cases is protected weight bearing necessary.

Foot alignment

An important part of the recovery process is assessment of foot alignment and walking/running analysis to highlight any potential problems. Advice on appropriate footwear and the
In more severe cases our physio care involves laser therapy which improves healing, reduces pain and takes down inflammation. Soft tissue techniques such as massage may also help to ease tight muscles associated with shin splints or MTSS. application of inner soles may also be of benefit. We are experts in this sort of advice and work with local running shops to get the best footwear for you.

We will also advise on a home exercise plan consisting of stretching, balance and strength exercises to help too. This is an important part of your recovery along with a graded return to activity with symptom free progression.


Causes of Shin Splints -more here

Causes of shin splints explained by Sundial physio James Masterson

Jewel runs Brighton Marathon
Jewel runs Brighton Marathon

Shin splints is a common sports injury in runners and sports people but it is often mis-diagnosed and poorly treated. If left untreated shin splints can cause ongoing and progressive pain and disability sometimes requiring surgery to correct. Here Sundial physio James Masterson sheds some light on this painful condition.

Shin splints was a medical term used to describe pain along the middle border of the shin bone (tibia) commonly experienced by runners. However, the term shin splints can be misleading and is generally avoided by clinicians as there can be a number of reasons why a person may experience pain in their shins. Some of the most common and more specific medical terms used for shin splints are medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), medial tibial periostitis and medial tibial traction periostitis. This exertional lower leg injury usually develops in people who take part in repetitive activities and sports such as running.

Other reasons for lower leg pain on exertion could be:

  • Stress fractures occur when muscles become fatigued and can’t absorb repeated shock, they transfer the stress to their bony attachment which can then result in a small crack or fracture of the bone.
  • Compartment syndrome is a painful condition where pressure of the muscles in the lower leg builds within their confined compartments. When this pressure increases it causes a decrease in blood flow which prevents nourishment and oxygen reaching the nerves and muscle cells.

Cause shin splints

Why does Shin Splints happen?

Shin splints or Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) occurs during physical activity and results from too much force being placed on the thin layer of connective tissue (periosteum) which covers the shin bone (tibia) and attaches the bone to the muscle tendon. The muscles which may contribute to this problem are the ones in the calf and inner side of the tibia. These muscles flex the big toe and push the ball of the foot down. These work hard every time you take step and even harder when you run.


Common problems which lead to Shin Splints (MTSS):

Recent increase in exercise intensity or duration.
• Biomechanical irregularities i.e. poor posture and problematic walking or running pattern such as over-pronation.
• Inflexibility and tightness of muscles.
• Change in exercise terrain i.e. running on hard surfaces or up and down hills.
• Muscular fatigue.
• Wearing the wrong type of footwear.

What are the symptoms of Shin Splints?

MTSS pain is often described as a recurring dull ache in the middle two thirds of the shin bone (tibia). Pain is worse in the mornings and after exercise, although the pain may often decrease or disappear altogether during a warm up or beginning period of exercise. Climbing stairs or weight bearing can aggravate symptoms and muscle tightness, thickening and lumps can be felt along the area of pain. Swelling may also be present and the individual can normally locate the exact site of where pain exists.

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