Shin splints (medial tibia stress syndrome) is a condition that commonly causes pain around the front of the shin.  Pain or symptoms can occur with increased loading such as brisk walking, jogging or running.

Shin splints

What causes shin splints?

One of the most common causes of is due to overuse and overload.  Our team at Malvern East Physiotherapy has recently seen an increase in shin splints with football preseason and a number of upcoming running events.

Whilst the exact cause is unknown, symptoms are believed to occur as a result of inflammation due to muscles and tendons pulling on the shin bone.

What are the common symptoms of shin splints?

Excessive stress and loading commonly occurs in the lower aspect of the shin.  Depending on the exact cause of shin splints, symptoms may be experienced on either side of the shin.  Depending on the stage of injury, symptoms may vary.

In mild cases, symptoms may include pain which appears to “warm up” and disappear with activity.  In severe cases, symptoms will be present during activity and even at rest.

How are shin splints diagnosed?

Your physiotherapist is able to thoroughly assess and diagnose shin splints.  Depending on the severity, MRI or bone scans may be used to diagnose other causes of your symptoms such as stress fractures.

Importantly, your physiotherapist will identify the cause of your shin splints.  Causes of shins splints can include:

  • Over-training or excessive increases in load.
  • Poor biomehanics including excessive pronation or excessive supination of the foot.
  • Inappropriate footwear.
  • Reduced flexibility at the ankle or knee joint.
  • Weak lower limb muscles including the calves, quadriceps or hamstrings.
  • Poor core control and pelvic stability.

Treatment for shin splints

Physiotherapy treatment has been proven to be effective for shin splints.  Depending on your signs and symptoms, your physiotherapist will work closely to reduce your acute pain.  This can include massage, dry needling or joint mobilisations.  If due to overuse or overload from training, your physiotherapist will identify a safe training program to ensure you can get back to training as quickly and as safely as possible.

Specific exercises for flexibility or strength will also be introduced to allow you to keep active without future exacerbations or injury.  These will be simple exercises to be performed.  In some cases, running specific clinical pilates can be used to ensure injury prevention and improve running performance.

If footwear or biomechanics are factors, your physiotherapist may liaise with podiatry to ensure appropriate footwear.  In some cases, better footwear combined with orthotics can greatly reduce the likelihood of recurrent shin splints.

If you are experiencing shin splints, see our physiotherapy team today.  Call us today on 9571 6888 or book online.