What are Shin Splints?

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) AKA Shin Splints is a condition defined by pain along the inner border of the shin bone (tibia) as a result of repetitive loading. What do you mean by repetitive loading you ask? Common forms of repetitive loading are activities such as running and jumping along with any sports that contain the two eg. Netball, Football and Basketball.

MTSS is often associated with overload, for example an increase in training; load, duration, distance and/or intensity which exceeds the individual's potential at that time. In other words, doing more than what your body is ready for as the muscles have not been gradually primed for the task. Therefore, the muscles inserting along the shin bone don’t work in harmony like they should- some do more work and some do less. This causes irritation of where these muscles insert to the bone resulting in inflammation and pain.

 So how is MTSS diagnosed? This is when seeing a Physiotherapist is key. We ask specific clinical questions surrounding the history behind your pain as many conditions present quite similarly. The main things we will look for are; type of physical activity, changes in load, pain that develops during exercise, dull ache and pain over the shin bone which can be reproduced on palpation (touch).

How can a Physiotherapist help? Great question! We are trained to analyse people's biomechanics- the way our body moves! If our muscles aren’t working in harmony it results in poor biomechanics and in some cases, pain eg. shin pain! We will pull apart the way you move to identify which muscles need targeting to get your body moving and feeling better! In the case of MTSS, our big calve muscles (gastrocnemius) often do all the work and get tense. Thus, we will prescribe strengthening exercises to target the smaller muscles so they do their fair share too! There are many other treatment techniques we can also use and recommend including taping, massage and compression.

 A graded return to exercise plan is also crucial, which lucky for you we are experts on that too! This exercise plan aims to get you exercising at your full potential by progressively increasing your load under guidance to avoid excessive overload. This approach allows your muscles to get used to the challenging load before moving to the next level so they work like a well oiled machine.

If you are experiencing shin pain, call 8682 6665 and get in touch with one of our Allied health professionals today!

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