Shin splints are relatively common injuries, and unfortunately they are too commonly misleadingly-termed as shin pain that is experienced during running.
The reason why they're misleading and why most sports medicine professionals and physiotherapists try not to use the term 'shin splints' and 'shin pain' can be two totally different conditions and with different causes and treatment approaches.
The proper medical term of shin splints is called "Medial Tibial Traction Periostitis" (MTTP) which refers to an inflammatory condition of the front part of the shin bone called the tibia, or the back/side part called posterior or medial shin splints respectively.
For ease of reference of this article, we will retain the use of the term "shin splint".
Patients suffering from shin splints will experience mild to severe discomfort and pain on the inner border of the shin (medial Tibial border) during and after any strenuous activities or exercise. It is important to be able to tell shin splints from shin pain because there are other causes of shin pain such as
Shin splints usually presents with
In the beginning, patients may experience pain/ache
only during beginning part of running, and that their shin pain decreases with continued activity. However, as the
condition progressively becomes worse, their shin pain may be present throughout the activity and even linger long after the exercise/activity has ended.
The pain experience with shin splints is mainly caused by excessive pressure on the lower leg muscles, for example
Physiotherapy at Phoenix Physio clinis for shin splints may include:
Your physiotherapist at Phoenix Physio will devise a graduated training programme to promote recovery and help you return to your usual sports activities.
In order to help
prevent this condition from coming back, a bio-mechanical analysis (an
analysis of posture at rest and during walking and running) with our
specialist physios should be undertaken to identify and pick up any factors that may be
making a person susceptible/aggravating shin pain and shin splints, so that they can be corrected
before a return to activity.
Muscle imbalance and leg length inequality are common causes of mal-alignment that can be picked up during a physiotherapy assessment with us. A common cause of Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome is Flat Feet. These would be identified during the physiotherapy bio-mechanical assessment and analysis.
When our foot pronates (this means to walk or run with most of the weight on the inside edge of the feet) at a higher speed, what happens is that it puts additional unnecessary pressure on the muscles along the front and side of the leg. Over time, this leads to overuse syndrome, stress fractures and ischaemic pain associated with increased compartmental pressure.
Arch supporting orthotics insoles is very effective in remedying this problem but must be clinically and customized instead of being off-the-shelf/retail because there are many different types and some can make you worse rather than better.
All cases of shin pains should be properly assessed and treated with a specialist physiotherapist.