Sports Therapy One

Medial Tibialis Stress Syndrome (MTSS)

AKA - Shin Splints

What are Shin Splint?

Shin splints is a term often referring to pain along the shin bone (tibia). The medical term is known as Tibial Stress Syndrome. You may also see this referred to as medial or lateral tibialis stress syndrome which simply translates to where the site of pain is present. In clinic, Medial Tibialis Stress Syndrome is certainly the most common out of the two. 

Shin Splint symptoms include a painful sensation along the inside of the shin bones, where there may be a particular tender spot. This may also be accompanied by some mild swelling. The pain may be more intense when you start running or performing a weight bearing activity, in the early stage, but start to be more persistent as time goes on. If this cycle continues the condition can get much worse and progress into a stress fracture.  

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So, who gets ‘shin splints’ and why?

Anyone can develop shin splints. In terms of incidence, runners tend to be one of the most prevalent groups affected by the condition with around 10-15% of running related injuries diagnosed as MTSS. Running on hard surfaces with improper running shoes and increasing mileage and intensity are some of the most prevalent causes of shin splints.

A previous injury in the area can always make an athlete more prone to re-injury. Weak glute strength, particularly the Gluteus Medius can cause excess hip internal rotation, resulting in excess tibial internal rotation and overpronation of the ankle.

How to prevent Shin Splints?

Wear proper running shoes ideally fitted for your needs. Stretch your calves and Achilles tendon dynamically before your run and statically after. Increase you level of activity gradually. No sudden jump in mileage, pace or changes to running surface, i.e., if you sudenly go from road running to trail running, this can increase the chances of getting shin splints. You could also engage in an appropriate running specific strength and condition plan which incorporates  all the key muscle group relevant to running. Remember to factor in your rest days, particularly after longer or more intense training sessions.

This is the time where the body heals and comes back stronger. It can be all too easy when you on a training roll to keep going. Before you know it you’re running 7 days a week for a few weeks feeling great then bang! The wheels fall off. In summary, shin splints can be a painful and frustrating injury. However, with correct approach they can be effectively treated. in more severe cases, Sports Therapy exercise rehabilitation  or orthotics may be necessary. If you are experiencing shin splints, the best advice is to consult a Physio or Sports Therapist with experience in this type of condition, who will be able to fully assess the condition and develop the best treatment plan with you. Remember a differential diagnosis for shin splints can be a stress fracture, which is a much more serious condition. If you’re in any doubt, best to get it checked out.