Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints)

Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome, can be a painful and frustrating condition, but with the right knowledge and care, you can overcome it. As physiotherapists, our goal is to provide you with a clear understanding the ‘what, how, why’ of your shin splints and offer practical advice for managing and preventing further discomfort.

Shin splints typically occur when the muscles and tendons surrounding your shinbone become overworked. This often happens due to repetitive stress, such as running or jumping on hard surfaces. It's essential to recognize the early signs, which may include a dull, aching pain along the inner edge of your shin. There are multiple diagnoses that can be confused for shin splints that may present similar that need assessment from Physiotherapist, such as bone stress injuries and exertional compartment syndrome.

Firstly, relative rest is crucial in the initial stages of shin splints. Avoid activities that worsen the pain and give your legs the opportunity to heal while staying active with non-provocative exercise like bike-riding, swimming and potentially practicing other skills in your sport which are not sore (i.e. practicing your shooting as a basketballer). Ice packs can also be applied to the affected area for 5-10 minutes as a good painkiller.

As you progress into a more manageable pain level within day-to-day walking, incorporating gentle stretching exercises into your routine can improve flexibility and alleviate tension in the affected muscles. As we begin stretching, we also get to start the exciting strengthening phase of rehabilitation. It is integral to incorporate specific strengthening exercises for the muscles around your shin, and these are tailored to your biomechanics, your sport, your stage of growth, the timing of the sporting season (if needed) and your skill level with strength work.

Wearing proper footwear with adequate support is essential to prevent shin splints from recurring. Both the OHL Physio and Podiatry teams highly recommend in investing in shoes designed for your specific activity and replace them regularly, as worn-out shoes can contribute to the development of shin splints. It is the dynamic combination of footwear, strength work, stretching and timing a relative rest period, which sees medial tibialis stress syndrome settle and ultimately resolve.

Remember, patience is key when recovering from shin splints. Rushing back into activities too soon can prolong your healing process. By following these guidelines and gradually reintroducing exercise, you can overcome shin splints and enjoy pain-free activities once again.

If you or one of your little loved ones if suffering from shin pain, please reach out to an OHL Physiotherapist or Podiatrist to start your assessment and rehabilitation journey. You can book via 9431 5955 and/or you can book anytime via our Client Portal on our website.